News / USA

Professional Athletes Prepare for Life After Sports

Wharton School of Business and National Football League teach them how to rebuild their lives once their playing days are over

Morvarid Taheripour teaching a class of former professional athletes as part of the Business Management and Entrepreneurial Program.
Morvarid Taheripour teaching a class of former professional athletes as part of the Business Management and Entrepreneurial Program.

Multimedia

Tala Hadavi

Professional athletes in the United States can make millions of dollars throughout their careers.  Yet statistics show that many eventually run out of money once their playing days are over.  The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Business School and the National Football League are out to change that. They've teamed up to teach professional athletes how to rebuild their lives when their sports careers come to an end.  

“The average career span of an NFL player is 3.5 years," says Morvarid Taheripour, a professor who helped form what's now called the Business Management and Entrepreneurial Program. "So the amount of the time they can be a professional football player with respect to the rest of their lives is quite short.”

The average professional athlete’s career is over by age 33.  For physically-demanding sports, like American football, it's as young as 28. Deciding what comes next can be difficult.

"All their life they have focused on being the best football player they can be, so now we help them figure out 'How can I do something else?'" says Kenneth Shropshire, Taheripour's colleague at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Business School. "Some people say athletes die two deaths. You kind of die when you stop playing and you die in real life. So they've got to come back to life and figure out 'How am I going to make a living at 25 for maybe another 40 years?'"

For Taheripour, who came to the US from Iran as a child, the partnership with the NFL is a dream come true. "It was taking everything I love about teaching and yet being able to impact people who are both accomplished and are incredibly driven, yet very humble."

Driven, rich and young can be a bad combination. And even with help, figuring out the next chapter isn't easy. Tony Stewart, a recent graduate of the program, retired from the NFL just a few months ago.

Tony Stewart, a recent graduate of the Business Management and Entrepreneurial Program, retired from the NFL just a few months ago.
Tony Stewart, a recent graduate of the Business Management and Entrepreneurial Program, retired from the NFL just a few months ago.

"There's a statistic that says 78 percent of professional football players are bankrupt, divorced or unemployed two years after leaving the game," says Stewart. "To me, that's just not acceptable. When it's time, when it's over, you have to have a plan."

Some 220 athletes have gone through the program over the past six years.

"They are like sponges. Everything we tell them, they can't get enough, honestly," says Taheripour. "Many guys come in and say, 'You know, I want to make a difference and I want to be known for something besides the number on my jersey. I just need to know how.'"

Darwin Walker is one former student who avoided being a statistic. Today, he runs a number of successful businesses and credits football for his accomplishments.

"The concepts I learned about leadership have all come from playing the game of football," says Walker. "The amount of study, amount of commitment, and time that you have to put into it is very much like being a successful business person."

Shifting the skills learned on the field to the workplace seems natural to some, but the numbers show that's not the case for everyone. Taheripour's message to her students is a serious one.  

This is the time to build your legacy, she tells them, because no matter how long your athletic career lasts, you are so much more than just an athlete.

You May Like

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid