“As a professional athlete a lot is going to be said about you – but I just try to move forward and try to achieve my goals.”

LeBron James, Athlete

Pros and Cons of Working as a Professional Athlete

advantages and disadvantages of being a professional athlete

Many people dream about a career as a professional athlete.

Yet, being a professional athlete also implies serious downsides.

Hence, before making your final decision, make sure to read this article since I show you all the pros and cons of being a professional athlete in the following chapters.

After reading this blog post, you may even decide for a different career path instead.

Table of Contents

Professional Athlete Job Profile

Short Job DescriptionProfessional athletes make their living playing a certain sport exceptionally well. They can also earn additional money from advertising if they are famous enough.
SalaryWhile some professional athletes make millions, many others are just not even able to survive and need a second job.
Job SecurityAlmost non-existent.
Job SatisfactionGood if you love your sport.
Work-Life BalanceBad since you have to work all day long to become better.
Physically / Mentally Demanding?Mentally and physically demanding job.
Future OutlookPoor job security since many people dream of becoming a professional athlete.
RequirementsNo special educational requirements.

Advantages of Being a Professional Athlete

  1. You can become famous as a professional athlete
  2. Professional athletes can earn lots of money
  3. Athletes can get access to exclusive events
  4. People want to take pictures with you
  5. You can organize tickets for your loved ones
  6. Professional athletes can retire early
  7. You can still work after your active career
  8. You can compete with the best people in your field
  9. You can push your boundaries
  10. Professional athletes can learn about themselves
  11. You can grow in character
  12. Professional athletes learn how to deal with pressure
  13. You can travel the world as a professional athlete
  14. Many people will envy you
  15. You can follow your passion

You can become famous as a professional athlete

One advantage of being a professional athlete is that you can become really famous.

People will admire you and want to be like you.

When you are in public, people will try to take pictures with you.

While this can be quite annoying for people who don’t want to be in the spotlight, it can be great for people who really want to be the middle of the universe and need the appreciation of others to be happy.

Hence, if you are the kind of extroverted person who loves this sort of attention, becoming a professional athlete may be the right way to go for you.

Professional athletes can earn lots of money

As a professional athlete, you will also have the chance to earn really good money.

While most other people just make enough money to pay their bills without being able to afford any luxury, you will be able to buy almost everything you ever wanted as a successful professional athlete.

In fact, professional athletes often earn many millions of dollars each year and don’t have to worry about money, at least during their active careers.

Thus, becoming a professional athlete can also be a great way to go for you if money is really important to you.

However, don’t choose this career path solely because of the money.

If you are just in the game for the money, you will probably fail since it is simply too hard and you will not be able to compete with people who are in this game due to real passion.

Also notice that many professional athletes don’t learn how to deal with money and that many of them go broke after they have finished their active careers.

Hence, make sure that you invest your money properly so that you also don’t have to worry about money once you retire.

Athletes can get access to exclusive events

Another benefit of being an athlete is that you will gain access to exclusive events.

In fact, if you are really good at what you are doing and have a high level of popularity, you will be invited to the most prestigious events in the world.

While most other people have to watch those events on TV, you will be able to attend them in person.

Consequently, you will also have the opportunity to be part of those fancy events as a professional athlete while most other people will never get the chance for this.

People want to take pictures with you

As a professional athlete, you will also be asked for pictures once you are in public.

In fact, many people will be quite eager to take pictures with you and this can give you a really great feeling.

Sure, for some people, it can be quite annoying since they rather want to have privacy instead of the hubbub that comes with being famous.

However, others really love these high levels of attention and if you belong to the second group, becoming a professional athlete can also be the right way to go for you in this regard.

You can organize tickets for your loved ones

Another upside of becoming a professional athlete is that you will always be able to organize tickets for your family and friends.

In fact, while most other people have to buy tickets for important sports events on the black market and have to pay huge amounts of money, you can just get the tickets for your loved ones for free.

This will make you quite popular in your circle of friends since your loved ones will really appreciate what you are doing for them.

It can also be great to play your sport if you know that your family and friends are watching your actions live in the stadium.

Professional athletes can retire early

If you are really good at what you are doing and choose the right sport, you will also be able to retire pretty early in your 30s.

In fact, many professional athletes earn millions of dollars each year and by investing this money in a senseful manner, most of them will never have to worry about money again, at least if they don’t have a too fancy lifestyle.

Hence, if you don’t want to work until your 60s, a career as a professional athlete can also make quite a lot of sense for you.

You can still work after your active career

If you are not ready to retire after your active career since you really love your game, you can still work in many different fields for your organization.

In fact, many former athletes are now commentators or managers of the teams they played for in the past.

Due to your excellent connections you can build during your active career, you will often have quite an easy time finding a job after you finish your active athlete career.

You can compete with the best people in your field

In general, as a professional athlete, you will also be able to compete with the best of the best in your sport.

Many athletes are not in this business just for the money, they want to compete with the best people and want to see how good they really are.

Moreover, if you have to compete with the best, you will naturally develop yourself further and will learn many additional skills during your career.

Hence, being a professional athlete can also be great if you are very ambitious and also are willing to compare yourself to the best.

You can push your boundaries

During your career as a professional sports athlete, you will also learn how to push your boundaries.

In fact, if you really want to become world-class, talent and hard work will just not be enough.

You really have to go to your physical and mental limit to be among the best since very good is just not be enough.

Learning how to push your boundaries is really important, not only for your professional sports career, but also in many other parts of life since you will learn how to deal with extreme situations.

Professional athletes can learn about themselves

In general, you will also learn a lot about yourself as a professional athlete.

Many times, you will ask yourself whether all the struggle is really worth it.

In those moments, you will really know if you are strong enough to get to the next level.

We as humans only get to the next level if we accept a certain level of pain and as a professional athlete, you will make those steps earlier than most other people do since you will be pushed to your boundaries in a quite natural manner.

You can grow in character

As a professional athlete, you will also learn how to lose. In fact, losing is just part of the game and learning how to deal with adversity is really the key for success later on in your life.

We all lose from time to time and learning from those losses is crucial to improve yourself.

Learning how to lose also allows you to grow in character.

Once you accept your losses and have the motivation to make it better next time, only the sky will be the limit for you since you will not be discouraged by minor losses anymore but see the whole exciting picture of your career instead.

Professional athletes learn how to deal with pressure

Another advantage of becoming a professional athlete is that you will really learn how to deal with pressure.

In many games, your mistakes can lead to a loss for your team.

You will also know that many people will make fun of you due to bad performances.

While this can lead to enormous pressure and is not for everyone, you can also grow from being exposed to this pressure since you will learn how to ignore your haters and how to handle this type of pressure in a proper manner.

You can travel the world as a professional athlete

As an athlete, you will also get the opportunity to travel the world.

In fact, the location for many important events will change each year and you will see many nice places during your career.

Especially if you really love to travel and to see new cultures and lifestyles, this can be great since you can combine your passion for sports with your passion for traveling the world.

Many people will envy you

In general, many people will admire and envy you at the same time if you become a professional athlete.

In fact, many people want to become athletes, yet they are simply not able to do so due to their physical abilities or many other factors that could hold them back.

Hence, if you make it as a professional athlete, you will be in the group of 1% who really turned their dream into reality and many people will wish they were you.

You can follow your passion

By becoming a professional athlete, you can also follow your dreams and your passion while still earning really good money at the same time.

There are not many other jobs out there that allow you this combination of financial upside and having fun in your job.

Thus, as a professional athlete, you will be able to combine the best of both worlds and can have it all, at least if you are good enough at what you are doing.

Disadvantages of Being a Professional Athlete

  1. Being a professional athlete can be lonely
  2. People make fun of you
  3. Shitstorms are quite common
  4. Only few mistakes can cost your career
  5. Pressure for professional athletes can be enormous
  6. You will be away from your family quite often
  7. Injuries are a problem
  8. Many professional athletes have to give up their careers pretty soon
  9. Only few athletes really make a fortune
  10. Salary greatly depends on the sport you are playing
  11. Long-term health issues are rather common
  12. You can’t go out like a normal person
  13. Professional athletes often have to make huge sacrifices
  14. Professional athletes have to live healthily
  15. Athletes have to work on weekends
  16. You have to be flexible regarding your schedule
  17. Many professional athletes develop mental issues
  18. Doping is a problem

Being a professional athlete can be lonely

Apart from the many important upsides of being a professional athlete, there are still some issues related to this career path.

For instance, one problem with becoming a professional athlete is that it can be a lonely game.

Sure, you will have many people who will admire you and who want to take pictures with you.

However, you will know deep inside that those people will only be around during the good times of your career and that they will be gone pretty soon if you make mistakes and your performance declines.

Hence, especially during bad times of your career, you will feel quite lonely as a professional athlete and since most athletes don’t have the time to maintain healthy relationships, you will often have to go through those dark times without any support of others.

People make fun of you

Another downside of being an athlete is that people will make fun of you if you don’t perform well.

This will not only be true for people in your neighborhood, also newspapers will highlight your mistakes.

Hence, make sure that you are able to mentally deal with those issues before you decide for becoming a professional athlete.

Shitstorms are quite common

Especially in our current state of the world, you will also have to deal with plenty of hate on social media.

In fact, during bad periods of your career, you will often have to deal with shitstorms on social media where people will criticize every step you take and every small mistake you make.

Some people may even write you letters and insult you.

Thus, by being a public figure as a professional athlete, you will also experience serious hate during your career and you should make sure that you are willing to take on those bad comments before deciding for a career as a professional athlete.

Only few mistakes can cost your career

If you are a world-class athlete, all eyes will be on you.

However, this also means that only few big mistakes in important games will be enough to end your career.

In fact, sports teams are pretty merciless if you don’t perform well and may just fire you if you are not able to fulfill the high expectations of your organization.

Pressure for professional athletes can be enormous

Since you will always be in the spotlight and every step you take will be observed quite carefully by the general public, the pressure of being a professional athlete can be overwhelming.

While some people really enjoy the fame and everything that comes along with it, most people are not able to deal with the high levels of pressure involved in the professional athletes’ world.

Consequently, make sure that you have a pretty stable mindset before you go for a career as an athlete to avoid any unpleasant surprises later on.

You will be away from your family quite often

Being a professional athlete can also imply serious problems for your family life.

In fact, most athletes are away from their families quite often and also don’t see their kids grow up.

This can also imply that you will miss the birthdays of your kids since you have to perform in a game in a different state or even in a foreign country.

In turn, your kids may really resent you for this in the long run and your spouse will also be more likely to cheat on you if you are away too often.

Injuries are a problem

Injuries not only hurt. They could also end your professional athlete career from one day to the other.

Many promising sports talents had to quit their careers due to injuries and if you are one of those unlucky guys, all the hard work you have put into your career will not pay off for you since you will simply not be able to play enough years.

Many young people greatly underestimate this risk and many of them also break in case those things happen since they suddenly realize that all the hard work and all the sacrifices had been basically for nothing.

Many professional athletes have to give up their careers pretty soon

As a professional athlete, you will also only have some prime years.

In fact, most athletes are not able to play longer than a decade at the highest level and have to settle down for minor leagues afterward.

Hence, make sure that you are aware of the fact that you will not be able to compete at the highest levels forever and that younger and fitter players will take your spot sooner or later.

Only few athletes really make a fortune

Many young people also dream of becoming rich as an athlete.

However, the truth is that only quite a small fraction of athletes really make a living out of their jobs and only a tiny fraction will get rich.

In fact, if you want to become wealthy or even rich as an athlete, you will have to become world-class in most sports and only quite few people will ever make it to this level while the vast majority will fail.

Salary greatly depends on the sport you are playing

You can even be world-class in some sports but still don’t make a fortune.

In fact, the amount of money you can make from your athlete career greatly depends on the popularity of the sport you are playing.

If you are world-class at throwing coconuts but nobody cares about your sport, you will just not be able to make a living out of it even if you are the world champion.

Hence, if your goal is to become rich as an athlete, make sure to choose a popular sport.

Long-term health issues are rather common

Another disadvantage of being a professional athlete is that many athletes complain about long-term health issues after finishing their active careers.

For instance, football players suffer from brain damages and other physical health problems quite often.

This can not only vastly decrease your overall quality of life, also your life expectancy will be significantly lower as a professional athlete.

Thus, make sure that you are willing to risk those long-term health issues before you decide to become a professional athlete.

You can’t go out like a normal person

If you reach a certain level of popularity, you will also be recognized in public by many people.

While some people love this sort of attention, others hate it since they will not be able to go out to a restaurant or a bar like every normal person does.

In some cases, people may even insult you once they recognize you.

Hence, as a professional athlete, you will also lose some level of privacy and you should make sure that you are the type of person who wants to get all this attention.

Professional athletes often have to make huge sacrifices

In general, you will also have to make significant sacrifices as an athlete.

You will have to make compromises in various parts of life and athletes usually have to make their career their priority if they want to get to the very top.

This also implies that there will not be that much time left for meeting friends or hanging out with your family.

Professional athletes have to live healthily

As an athlete, you will also have to live quite healthily if you want to stay fit.

In fact, athletes barely drink alcohol or smoke since this would lower their performance.

Instead, they have to eat many healthy things, even though they might not like those dishes at all.

For many athletes, eating is just a way to become physically stronger rather than pleasure.

Athletes have to work on weekends

Athletes will also have to work on weekends.

In fact, most important games take place on Saturday or Sunday and this also implies that you will not have any time off during those days.

Hence, you will just not have an extensive family life since you will be away from home quite often when your children and your spouse will have a regular weekend.

You have to be flexible regarding your schedule

In general, athletes also have to be quite flexible.

Quite often, coaches will change their minds and will organize training camps and other surprises.

In such a case, you will just have no other choice than to cancel personal appointments if you want to be part of the professional athletes’ world.

Many professional athletes develop mental issues

Due to the significant level of pressure that comes along with being a professional athlete, many athletes also develop mental problems sooner or later.

In fact, it is quite hard to deal with the whole package of problems that comes along with a career as an athlete and only few people are able to deal with all of this in a healthy manner while many athletes suffer from depression and anxiety.

Doping is a problem

If you want to be world-class in your sport, there is almost no other choice than to use illegal substances to boost your performance.

Even though most athletes deny this, there is plenty of evidence that doping plays an important role in the athlete world.

Top 10 Being an Athlete Pros & Cons – Summary List

Being an Athlete ProsBeing an Athlete Cons
Athletes can earn really good moneyBeing an athlete can be stressful
Being an athlete can make you famousAthletes have to deal with shitstorms
Many people will admire youBeing an athlete can be lonely
Athletes get access to exclusive eventsProfessional athletes work on weekends
Professional athletes can retire earlyFew mistakes can cost your career
You learn how to deal with pressurePeople will make fun of you
You learn how to push your boundariesMany athletes develop mental problems
You can get tickets for your friendsProblematic for your family life
You can compete with the bestAthletes have to live healthily
Athletes can follow their passionHuge sacrifices in general

Should You Become A Professional Athlete?

Now that I showed you all the advantages and disadvantages of being an athlete in the previous chapters, it is on you to decide whether you want to become an athlete or if you rather want to go for an alternative career path instead.

Also make sure to check out the following articles:

Advantages and disadvantages of becoming an actor

Advantages and disadvantages of becoming a police officer

Sources

https://www.encyclopedia.com/economics/news-and-education-magazines/professional-athlete

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Professional_sports

https://money.howstuffworks.com/how-to-become-a-professional-athlete.htm

About the author

My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people about the different career paths that are possible in our current state of the world. In my opinion, people often make the mistake to choose their profession solely based on how much money they can earn from it instead of doing what makes them really happy.

This is quite sad and I just want to give people a more objective picture of how a fulfilling career could look like. I did the same when I started working in consulting after finishing my Master’s degree in Economics. However, I’ve quit pretty soon after that since I haven’t found true meaning in my job.

Now I can do what I really love to do and I want to enable as many other people as well to go this exciting path towards happiness instead of money.

I conducted various interviews with employees to give you a good impression of what working in different fields will look like and that you can make the best possible decision regarding your future career choice.

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