This topic has a lot of potential.  For my daughter, it was really tough.  She was well known in her conference and a "star" on her college team.  She was on a billboard for her university.  There were several articles written about her on campus and then in our local paper.  She was highly competitive.  Then, it all ended.  She jumped into coaching and still played on a women's team for one more year.  It was a huge let down to continue playing.  She began giving lessons on the side along with her coaching.  Due to time constraints, she is now playing slow-pitch co-ed softball and is one of two women in her league who can take it yard on a 300 ft. home run fence.  

I want to point out one other drawback to the ending of a career.  In college, they do so many things like weight lifting, diet, ... to change a player's body.  For my daughter, they wanted power and got it.  She hit 50 home runs in her college career.  Now, it has been hard for her to make changes away from that lifestyle.  

My kids grew up with me responding to “What do you do?” with “depends when I’m doing it.” I knew people were asking what I did for a living. But I didn’t want to define myself by my job. It lead them not to define themselves by what provides the most exposure.

While my kids grew up jocks with mostly jock friends they never saw sports as who they were. They were also top students. They saw sports as what made them most visible. They knew what their path would be after college. They had done internships. My daughter did a semester long internship. My son ticked off his baseball coach choosing to do an internship in the summer. He had surgery and couldn’t play summer ball anyway that summer. After graduation and a summer break they pursued their objective and got it.

They're both still very active. Diet and weight have not been a problem.

At the first Thanksgiving family get together after graduating my son commented without baseball he’s now as boring as the rest of us. “How’s the job?” doesn’t resonate like “how’s this coming season look?” 

When I graduated even with work and coaching baseball in the summer I had free time to get bored. It led to calling friends and meeting for a couple of beers many nights.  I wasn’t drinking to excess. But I was drinking frequently. After a break up I wanted to be where available women were. The bad advice I received from my mother was “be a grown up and having my own place.” I should have had a roommate.

I think the important piece is a person can't wait till the end of their "career" to try and re-define themselves. They have to realize early on, and mainly this responsibility falls on the adults in their lives, that baseball (or insert any activity here) is something that they do, it's not who they are. We tell our kids that even with a HOF career, they're going to be an ex-baseball player a lot longer than they're a baseball player. 

And, RJM, I'm going to steal you're retort to the "what do you do?" question. Very well played.

There is a heckuva lot more to life than just Baseball.

I'm a big believer in "do what you love".  Find something that you love doing and work your tail off becoming great at it.  Former college athletes certainly gave an advantage over many in our society, in terms of already having honed a tremendous work ethic.

It can be a transition that could potentially take awhile to finding something new that you love, I don't want to minimize that.

For those that are Baseball lifers, once the playing days are done it is time to get into coaching or scouting.

Great topic!  This can be a seriously problematic issue in many ways.  So many here say their son lives for baseball, is 24/7 baseball, etc.  We talk about the commitment it takes... how a player has to be "all in", how college baseball is a full time job in itself and how a player must make sure he outworks his competition.  We never want to stand between a boy and his dream (who then becomes the young man and his dream).  

For the most part, the work ethic, the competitive drive, the team first attitude, the learning early to deal with difficult bosses, all the great life-lesson learning that the game brings about is very advantageous to future career endeavors.  But i think for many, baseball does become such a huge piece of their identity, it can be a very difficult transition.  Finding something else they love can be a task that seems highly improbable - how do you replace your childhood/young man's dream pursuit? 

Then, as CoachB25 alluded, there are peripheral casualties.  Years of structured, mandatory conditioning suddenly goes away.  For some, a diet has been put in place that isn't appropriate for someone no longer engaged in daily regimented high intensity workouts.  Many will initially celebrate "the end" by taking a lengthy break from that strict conditioning regimen.  Some will not return to sufficient levels. 

Preparation, regular communication and balance.  Ongoing support, encouragement and celebration of who our kids are outside of the game, starting at an early age.  Those are the keys, I think.  But what are the answers for those who didn't know to do this as they were navigating parenthood with a serious athlete for the first time?    I don't know the answers.  For us, it was part dumb luck.  The one kid that was the serious athlete also happened to have the opposite problem of too many other interests.  Our battle was to get him to narrow his focus at times.  But I see so many others who are/were 100% baseball from a young age into adulthood.  I see some really struggle with this transition, with finding their new identity or realizing they always had other things to identify with. 

My nephew graduated last year after playing D2 baseball for 4 years.  Several months ago I asked him if  he missed playing, fully expecting to hear something to the effect he wishes he could turn back the clock or something like that.  He told me his misses being with teammates, traveling to different states, study groups, and friends.  He then said no, he doesn't miss the competitive playing environment.  He knew going in baseball was a vehicle to help him get a good education and degree.  If things worked out along the way to get to the next level so be it, but his future was the degree.  Upon leaving college he was immediately hired to almost a 6 figure entry level job in his field.  He didn't loose his identity since his identity was being rewarded right now.  Identity is ever changing, everything comes to an end.  It is what you do with the things you have in the past or present that will create your identity for the future.  I am nearing retirement in a few years and am thinking about my new identity that will carry me through until the next phase.

So, I'm having a hard time understanding the authors perspective.   Possibly with the exception of a few (who fully intend to be a professional athlete after college) I really don't see how this can be an issue and frankly most of them have something more to offer the world than being a professional athlete.  Maybe the bigger issue is adapting to the real world after college?   I read the article.  I just assumed being a college athlete is extremely temporary because there are time limitations...am I missing something.   I knew when I graduated college I was done playing college tennis.   Tried my hand at professional tennis and got my clock cleaned.   I never thought of myself as a tennis player first, just somebody who really likes tennis but did not have the natural talents to make a living at it.   The same goes with my oldest son when he was done with college baseball.  He never thought of himself as a baseball player first probably because he knew the clock was running and he didn't have the natural talents to make it to the next level.  He loved the game and that is why he played in college.   He actually refused to have a reference to a no-hitter he threw in 2012 brought up by his best man at his wedding a couple weeks ago.  Again, I just don't get this article.   

fenwaysouth posted:

So, I'm having a hard time understanding the authors perspective.   Possibly with the exception of a few (who fully intend to be a professional athlete after college) I really don't see how this can be an issue and frankly most of them have something more to offer the world than being a professional athlete.  Maybe the bigger issue is adapting to the real world after college?   I read the article.  I just assumed being a college athlete is extremely temporary because there are time limitations...am I missing something.   I knew when I graduated college I was done playing college tennis.   Tried my hand at professional tennis and got my clock cleaned.   I never thought of myself as a tennis player first, just somebody who really likes tennis but did not have the natural talents to make a living at it.   The same goes with my oldest son when he was done with college baseball.  He never thought of himself as a baseball player first probably because he knew the clock was running and he didn't have the natural talents to make it to the next level.  He loved the game and that is why he played in college.   He actually refused to have a reference to a no-hitter he threw in 2012 brought up by his best man at his wedding a couple weeks ago.  Again, I just don't get this article.   

It's more about "being the man". The star athlete who excelled in the sport and was able to go somewhere with it. Everybody knows who you are in HS, then in college you get the backpack with the school logo, get to leave class early for road trips, live in athlete specific dorms, status with girls, parties, all the social perks that come with being an athlete. It's cool. Then you're just a guy who used to play sports. Like most of the population. 

I agree with what you're saying, but that is the psychology behind it. 

If you have a personality beyond playing a sport you'll be fine. But I'm sure it is not a great place to be if you're one of the "didn't come here to play school" type athletes. You basically need to have direction beyond playing. For some, it is getting back into coaching. For others, it is graduating and finding a steady job. Either is fine, but some just don't think about what happens when it ends. 

You basically just don't want to be the guy wearing a letterman's jacket 10 years later. 

In my small sampling of older friends of my kids, who've competed in three different sports, the ones who struggle are not those who spend four years in their sport and graduate to being a NARP (non-athlete regular person), but those who are forced out, usually by injury, before they are ready.   The four-year athletes get the sash at graduation and, by and large, are ready to move on.  The gymnast who blows out her knee at 17 and the swimmer with the shoulder injury at 19, etc. are the ones who have the more difficult time.  

Kind of on topic: Personally I have seen a bigger issue with those that get drafted out of high school than those that take the college route. Most of the players I have known that took the college route have come out the other side pretty successful. On the other hand a number of the drafted high school kids have had issues (Small sample size).  3 of the 5 that I know personally that were drafted ended up with addiction problems (1 alcohol and 2 drugs), 1 went back to school, and one made it to the show (now a coach). On a side note, the 3 with addiction problems all played in the steroid era. They all were released due to injuries and never got their lives back on track.

Add Reply

Likes (0)
×
×
×
×