As you may or may not know, May is Mental Health Awareness Month in the US. It’s a blip in time where we can pause to think about a very big need that must be addressed in our culture today. And not only just within our culture at large, but within the specific subculture of athletics and college sports.
In the past week or so there have been a fair amount of studies and data released about student-athlete development and various needs of student-athletes. While I am still formulating my thoughts around the recent releases (and reading everything more in-depth), I thought at the very least I'd share a round up of the information.
All-in-all, it's good stuff and offers a lot of different views into the world of college athletics. Here's the scoop:Read More
In the past year, we’ve seen a lot of changes in college sports. Some good. And some not so good. The changes I’m most interested, had to do with the increase and attention around athlete development, career development and the athlete's transition from sports into the workforce. We saw a lot of great work around financial literacy programming, career planning and services, as well as thoughtfulness and attention to the emotions and the experiences that come from retiring from sports.
Here’s what I think we’ll see in 2016:
1. A deeper integration across department and campus resources.
We’re already seeing university athletic departments working on programs to help their student-athletes transition out of athletics, but what I think we’ll see more of is a formalized specialty in this area and dedicated positions. We will see schools bringing career coaches into the fold regularly and a focus on developing a comprehensive program that puts the student-athlete benefits first. I also think we’ll see more integration of services throughout the athletic department and less of the segmented workshop and presentation approach. This means key players in the athletic department will be involved in the process of developing the student-athlete from the time they step on campus their freshman year.
2. A big emphasis on financial planning and financial literacy for athletes.
I think we’ve seen foreshadowing of this (as a number of institutions have already started testing this programming), but with the amount of funds being given to student-athletes for cost of attendance, I think we’ll see nearly every school get on board with some type of financial literacy program or workshop. This is an important detail that athletes must get a handle on as it’s a skill everyone needs in life. Frankly, I think this is one of the easier “issues” to tackle from an athletic department programming and support perspective. It’s an entry point for schools to provide more comprehensive, personal development for their student-athletes.
3. Research and awareness around the emotional and personal process that occurs during athletic retirement transition.
I’ve spent a good amount of time digging in on this particular area as I’m most passionate about this element of the athletic career. Here, we’ll see athletic departments focus more on proactive development work as they look for how to best address the emotional and personal needs of an athletic career. I also think we'll see athletic departments make an effort differentiate themselves from other institutions in this particular area. This will happen for two reasons: first, it’s essential to be addressed for athletic well-being and if a school can say they work with athletes on this particular challenge (and also track it), it can help their recruiting efforts. Second, it can help with alumni donations and engagement (more to come on that in a future post).
4. We’ll see more accountability and measurement.
Right now, we don’t see much ownership for the actual personal / professional development or placement of student-athletes within athletics administration. There is a lot of discussion over who is ultimately responsible, but in 2016, schools are going to take some risks and take on a bigger role by putting compensation and metrics around this work. Tied to that, we’ll see a start to standardized measurement of these efforts -- as this will be needed to substantiate funds for the programming and staffing.
5. Technology and personalization.
Technology has obviously changed how athletic administrators manage their student-athletes (for the most part making it easier). We’re going to continue to see technology implemented across the board at athletic departments, allowing for deeper levels of integration and management of student-athletes and their progress. This will allow for a more personalized approach when working with each individual. Imagine if you could assess, educate, train, monitor and track the personal and professional development of every athlete in an online platform that easily integrates into the programs you already have in place? And then, also add a layer of customized support to meet the athletes wherever they are in the process. All from freshman year through securing a job after college….Sign me up, right? I don't exactly know what shape this will take, but believe it can be done and that some folks are getting close to figuring this out.
I’m excited for 2016. There’s a lot of great work to be done to support athletes actively involved in their careers and as they retire from sports. I think we’ll make some real progress towards further defining what success looks like in this arena and learn lots from the collective effort of everyone working in the industry.
What do you think? What am I missing? Where else will we see changes in student-athlete development next year?
I recently read an article that was shared with the NCAA former student-athlete group on LinkedIn and it has since sparked some decent conversation on the topic. The original Washington Post article covers the challenges athletes may face trying to exercise again after their athletic careers have ended.
This rings true for me, as I'm sure it does with many other former student-athletes. It took me about 5 years post-college to really start exercising again. Until recently (almost 10 years later), I really couldn’t put my finger on why I was so damn unmotivated to exercise. And not even exercise, but challenge myself in any area of my life. I found that this quote in the article articulates the challenge perfectly:Read More
I’ve been thinking a great deal about job placement for athletes and the requirements for today’s businesses. Employers want to hire the best of the best. That means they want people that are driven, dependable, willing to work hard and are interested in being a part of a successful team.
Many athletes hope to find careers that allow them to highlight their unique skill-sets. These skills-sets are typically acquired from specialized and intense athletic experiences. They also tend to have a plethora of “transferable” skills and traits that align with exactly what employers are looking for...Read More
It occurred to me earlier this week that it can be hard to find what professionals, organizations, individuals and institutions are up to when it comes to personally and professionally developing athletes. So, periodically, I’ll try to collect news, articles and personal athlete stories from all over the place to help keep you in the loop.
Here’s the first edition.Read More
In it, they’ve shared a WEALTH of stats on women in business and how sport has impacted the success of many, many businesswomen and female leaders today.Read More
A few weeks ago, I read an article announcing the opening of a new NFL locker room facility on Baylor University’s campus. The new Charline Dauphin Pro Locker Room is a special facility open any time for the former Baylor and active NFL players who want to come back to campus. This news got me thinking about the various methods and levels of support college athletic departments provide its student-athletes and the messages it sends.
My initial reaction to reading the news was, “this is ridiculous” and “what a waste of money.” I immediately asked myself, why invest in facilities like a new NFL locker room that will serve so few? Why not invest in sustainable programs and services that will aid entire populations of student-athletes in succeeding in their academics and in life after they leave campus?Read More
I spend a lot of time thinking about the transition that occurs when individuals end their athletic careers. Things like: What happens during the transition…what it means emotionally for the person...how it affects the individual’s lifestyle…what we can be doing more of to support people as they go through the process, etc. Despite the fact that I’ve personally experienced this transition (and currently work with individuals as they go through it) there is still much that I don’t know.
I would argue that biggest portion of this entire process deals with the concept of athletic identity and how a person manages the changes related to it. I’ve written briefly on this before and think it’s quite critical to paint a better picture of the emotions, thoughts and feelings a person experiences as they go through this change in their life.Read More
One of my previous blog posts addressed the need to provide additional support for professional athletes as they retire from athletics. This is something I believe at my core. The more I continue to think about it, the more I believe we can do a better job of developing athletes as individuals across all levels of athletics. Investing in the personal development of athletes needs to happen earlier in the athlete’s career and it is the responsibility of athletic organizations at every level to do this.Read More
A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post sharing some of my advice for recent college graduates as they enter the “real world.” In writing that, I realized that I have more to say on the topic of building a solid support network and its importance. I hold this concept as a priority in my life and think that we all need to feel like we are a part of something bigger and a part of a community in order to thrive in whatever it is we do each day.
Times of transition, like graduating from college, finishing your athletic career or starting a new job can cause your network and ties to community to be in flux. This leaves you vulnerable to little support at a time when you need it most. For many athletes, the lack of community is one of the biggest issues that can surface during the transition out of athletics.
In February, former NHL hockey player Steve Montador was found dead in his home. He was 35 years old.
There has been quite a bit of chatter around his passing and the issue of mental health support in professional sports. In the last week, Olympic medalist and hockey player, Hayley Wickenheiser, published an extremely well-written and thoughtful article on this issue in The Players’ Tribune. I also watched a very courageous and emotional video interview with current Chicago Blackhawk Daniel Carcillo on Montador's passing and the need for more support for the athletes in the National Hockey League.
Both pieces moved me to respond, though I must admit that I’ve had a really hard time writing this post. So much so, that I have put off publishing it. I have such a hard time reading stories like Montador's and not getting emotionally charged. There is just no reason for something like this to happen — over and over again, especially when we have the tools to assist them.Read More