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

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More