Why this matters
The post-sport journey doesn't begin at retirement, nor is it limited to professional or physical transitions.
On the latest episode of the Global Sport Matters Podcast, guest host and producer Karen Given sits down for part two in her series on the post-sport journey. In this episode, Given hosts a roundtable discussion with Scott Brooks, PhD, director of research at the Global Sport Institute, and Dr. Shannon McHugh, a psychologist and the co-founder of the Post-Game Players' Lounge. They discuss the physical and mental health challenges athletes face when transitioning out of their playing careers and navigating life through the post-sport journey in the NFL, youth sports and across the sports landscape.
"Nobody is doing the pre work, which is preparing these guys beforehand, which is part of what we want to do is the education piece beforehand," McHugh says of Post-Game's work in the NFL and beyond. "But it's also about actually having groups that are specifically about how are you transitioning, that's just not we look everywhere, and we're like somebody must be doing this somewhere, right? And nobody is. And so what we've decided is that we're going to do that and we're going to be the people who can, hopefully access the guys who really need that transition support."
The panel discusses how prepping athletes for life after sport must begin at a young age, and while youth athletes may be quite a long time away from thinking about retirement or transitioning away from being an athlete, the habits they build as young people matter when they get older. That includes physical wellbeing as well as mental health, work ethic, and financial literacy.
"The physical thing is a big thing and it very much mirrors physical health and mental health. We need to talk about them in the same light," Brooks says. "We need to pay the same amount of attention to this, and we just don't we're taught to shut up stuff away, and just stay at this job."
In part one, Given interviewed Russell Hinder, a longtime Australian National Basketball League player, about his transition after retirement, as well as Karen Gallagher, PhD, a professor at the University of Alaska-Anchorage and a researcher on the overlap between athlete and military transitions.
Tune in and subscribe to the Global Sport Matters Podcast wherever you listen to podcasts, or find it here.
If you are what you repeatedly do, what happens when you stop doing it?
The athlete's journey outside of competition is not often covered in media, nor considered all that much by fans. It can, however, be core to athletes’ lived experiences, impacting decisions on where to play, which business opportunities to take, how to take care of their physical and mental health and more.