Retirement doesn’t have to spell the end of an athlete’s involvement with their chosen sport. We look at the employment options open to those in search of a different kind of sporting job…
No one understands a sport better than the athletes who have practised it at a competitive level, and they are always in demand with television and radio stations to provide commentary, in-depth analysis and opinion. The role of a broadcaster requires the ability to communicate clearly, calmness under pressure and an attention to detail. Broadcasters are also expected to create content ideas for programmes and interview athletes. British middle-distance runner Steve Cram competed at three Olympic Games, winning silver in the 1,500 metres in Los Angeles in 1984, and is now an athletics commentator for the BBC in the UK.
The people responsible for organising one-off sporting competitions, festivals or galas, event managers oversee the whole process from initial fund-raising, promotion and logistics through to the end of the event once the players and spectators have left. Event managers can work alone, but frequently head up a larger team. Good leadership, and interpersonal and organisational skills are all essential. Simon Lillistone was part of the Great Britain cycling team at the 1998 Games in Seoul and in Barcelona four years later, and subsequently pursued a new career in event management, helping to deliver all the cycling events at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Referee, Judge, Course Marshal
A role which requires good communication skills, an in-depth knowledge of the rules of the particular sport and, in some cases, good levels of physical fitness. Professional officials must implement the laws of the sport independently and impartially and adjudicate if disputes arise. They are also often the ‘middle man’ between competitors and the event directors or organisers. One athlete who made the switch is Australian gymnast Allana Slater. She competed at the Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 Olympic Games and, after retiring in 2005, began training to become an international gymnastics judge.
There are many employment opportunities in modern sports marketing as clubs and organisations look to maximise revenues. Marketing managers create and implement strategies to increase a club’s profile, identify new customers and analyse consumer behaviour. They are also responsible for costing marketing campaigns and selecting appropriate media channels. The 1972 Olympic Games hosted by Munich saw Bill Schmidt win bronze for the USA in the javelin; and, once his track and field career was over, he set up his own business, Pegasus Sports Marketing, based in Tennessee.
Diet is key for modern athletes, and the role of the nutritionist is increasingly important. The job involves tailoring diets for individual athletes or teams to maximise performance and recovery and often requires the nutritionist to work closely alongside medical staff and sports psychologists. A formal qualification is usually required to work as nutritionist, often a degree in a biological science. Steeplechaser Rasa Troup ran for Latvia at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing; and, having completed a Master’s Degree in Nutrition from the University of Minnesota, she now works as a sports nutritionist in the USA.