The Welfare of Footballers and Athletic Identity

Since 2012 the PFA has provided dedicated service to help its members wellbeing, and the numbers taking advantage of that are on the rise. According to the PFA website, the dedicated approach was taken because “we felt a lot of onus was being placed on the physical aspect of playing football and not enough emphasis on player’s emotional well-being, and I think the two go hand in hand,” said Michael Bennett, PFA Head of Welfare. The numbers of players receiving counselling are growing from previous years, and that number will continue to rise due to, the stress and pressure that comes with being a professional footballer and the overall business of football. Examining this rise in counselling with a misunderstanding of Athletic Identity and the personal developmental process of footballers from all ages could result in a higher demand for qualified helping professionals.

Mental health and Well-being have become a topic of conversation on the academy, and professional level of football. The overall field is in its infancy stage. This can explain why the terms Mental health and Well-being are used simultaneously with athletes. However, when a footballer or any professional athlete has issues or challenges associated with sports participation, traditional approaches and services concerning Mental Health and Well-being should not be considered. Since conventional Mental Health and Well-being services were never developed or designed for footballers.

According to the NHS, mental health services deal with a wide range of issues. Unfortunately, none of these legitimate issues deal with the root and essence of footballers daily problems and challenges, which is deep rooted in Athletic Identity. However, some of the services address the outcome of issues and the effects of Athletic-Identity. Traditional mental health services do not holistically address the core of footballers daily emotional and developmental state of mind.

Well-being is specific to addressing an individual’s emotional state such as anger, moods, anxiety, fear, stress, and trauma. Positive mental well-being means feeling good – about yourself and the world around you – and being able to get on with life in the way you want. Thus, only a small number of footballers or any athlete experiences a career in sport the way they want. Therefore, how are welfare officers and counselors addressing this critical component of life for the footballer?

Mental health services and well-being approaches are essential for the general public but fall short of providing a holistic approach for aspiring and professional footballers. While it seems footballers experience issues that appear identical to the general public, such as but not limited to depression, stress, anxiety, and alcohol abuse. Footballers are not part of the general public, due to their lifestyle, the process of becoming a professional footballer and the way the world around them revolves.

Why are sports specific mental health and well-being services essential to the youth footballer? Because sport is a business and at the academy level your dealing with kids, who in most cases can’t separate their emotional state from the business side of the game. According to one parent “Some academies do not care about the welfare of the boys,” said one mother, whose son was recruited by a Premier League club at the age of six and released at 13. “They just throw them on the scrapheap, ruin their confidence then turn to the next kid showing a bit of promise.” Unfortunately, finding the next Premier League professional requires casualties which is part of the business.

It’s important to note footballers at all ages experience a unique set of issues and challenges throughout a career which is deep-rooted in Athletic Identity and Post Traumatic Sports Disconnect (PTSD). According to David Conn both the Premier League and Football League, whose clubs have 12,000 boys in intensive training from the age of eight, much more in “development centres” from – preposterously – the age of five, pride themselves on providing a “holistic” experience for the children.

English football is proud to have a network of 8,500 welfare officers across the grassroots youth game, supporting safe and fun environments for everyone. However, is there a complete understanding of Athletic Identity and PTSD varying stages within the welfare officers community? A holistic, proactive approach to the personal development of footballers will continue to progress slowly, and the need for services will increase. Unless we begin to educate footballers, coaches, welfare officers, and counsellors on the unique areas of sport-specific mental health and well-being services.

The number one reason youth athletes and professional footballers progress or fail to advance to the next level of development on or off the pitch is due to the number of expectations placed on them as well as the expectations they put on themselves regarding sports participation. Education is essential for all on the subject of Athletic Identity combined with a detailed personal player development scheme, which is supported by three balanced pillars of an individuals personal, social and professional development. This scheme, if implemented, would eliminate the need to use traditional approaches when proactively attacking daily issues and challenges of footballers. Thus, moving the sport specific Mental Health and Well-being industry further in a positive direction.

Dr. Mark Robinson is the author of Athletic Identity The Personal Development of Athlete. 



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The Human side of Sports Management, Athletic Scandals and Athlete Behavior

Sports Management is a field that produces opportunities to work in a variety of sports-related capacities. According to Careers in Sports Management, people who work in sports management are interested in both sports and business. In school, sports management professionals learn about finance, marketing, law, and business as they apply to the world of sports. After completing their education, graduates can work in amateur, collegiate, or professional athletics in just about any type of sport and often find jobs as managers, scouts, coaches, and marketing and public relations specialists.  Stacey Marone, reported, sports management programs focus on the business and administrative aspects of the industry including sales, marketing, sponsorship, branding, operations, and economics.

Sports Management is widely seen as the business of sports. If sports management is the business of sports and athletes are effectively the business, shouldn’t people studying sports management be knowledgeable about the personal development issues and challenges facing their key asset responsible for generating or losing revenue?


“What is the ROI on personal development services for athletes?”


In interviews with college athletic and academic personnel, regarding a serious investment in the personal development for the athlete, the overall consensus seems to be “we cant measure personal development the way we can measure wins and losses or graduation rates.” Quickly followed by, “what is the ROI in personal development services for athletes?” Well, the ROI is becoming increasingly clear to many on the college and professional level. Therefore aspiring sports management professionals should take notice.


Probably the biggest and most recent example of what happens when we underestimate the personal development needs of athletes is Baylor University. SI Wire reported the widespread sexual assault scandal involving Baylor’s football program has cost the university more than $76 million. Bears for Leadership reform commissioned HSSK, a professional services firm, to estimate expenses and lost revenue due to the scandal. HSSK managing director Jared Jordan wrote, according to KWTX TV, “It is my estimation that the financial impact of the sexual assault crisis at Baylor could be as much or more than $223 million consisting of $121.7 million in costs and $101.3 million in lost revenues through 2019,”

Coaches and Administration

Athletes aren’t alone in the need to understand personal development as displayed in the Rutgers scandal. Since 2013 according to USA Today, Rutgers has spent at least $2.3 million on the scandals — a figure that includes settlements, search firms, and crisis management consultants. It’s amazing how we are surprised by coaches behavior but ignore educating coaches on athlete behavior and more importantly athlete needs.


On the professional level, it’s not just the individual athlete that lose financially when ill-advised behavior is exhibited. Shareholders of Nike, Gatorade, and other Tiger Woods sponsors lost a collective 5 to 12 billion in the wake of the scandal involving his extramarital affairs, according to a study by researchers at the University of California, Davis.

What If…
The athlete can be considered the driving force in sports management, without athletes sports would be non-existent. What if we started educating people in the business of sports on the human side of the business of sports management? We have become so consumed with generating revenue and the bottom line of winning and losing. We have misjudged the need to provide education on the personal development and well-being of the business. To such a point that athletic scandals are becoming too common and costly.


A Sports Management degree covers all required areas of running the business of sport but has neglected to educate its potential graduates on athlete behavior and the direct relationship to achieving the goal of managing a successful athletic organization. The answer to the question, what is the ROI on PPD programs and services to the university? The ROI is in the millions if you consider, Baylor University lost $223 million, Rutgers University lost 2.3 million, shareholders of Tiger Woods lost 5-12 Billion and schools such as Ole Miss had to part ways with 7.8 million and UNC-Chapel Hill is missing 18 million. Mainly because they all misunderstood the ROI of the personal development of the key asset (the athlete) of the business of sports.





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Athletic Identity: Transition to Transformation Book

Most athletes enjoy an exciting athletic career with little preparation for the road that lies beyond sports. Research indicates it takes college athletes between 18 months and five years to become fully adjusted to life without sports participation. During this transition to transformation (T2T) process, athletes can suffer depression, loneliness, alcohol and drug addiction, lack of confidence, and unrealistic expectations for life without sports.

Over the years through research, I have read countless numbers of articles on athletes and transition.  I have also worked with athletes through this time consuming and delicate process.  The majority of research is specifically geared towards transition as a career ending process.  However, when working with athletes, my approach has been to prepare them for the multilevel platform of transition, which consists of much more than exiting out of a career in sport.

The essence of transition for athletes is centered in the personal, social and professional development of the athlete.   Transitions include but are not limited to: being drafted to play on a team, not making the team, being released from the team, having to play a lesser role on a team, the unexpected injury (short, long and career ending), playing on the junior team to playing on the senior team, management changes, coaching changes, etc.  These are some of but not limited to the transitions that affect athletes competing in sport.

Athletic Identity Transitional Management (AITM) is a component of personal player development.  It has been designed to provide an industry name as well as an explanation of how this process affects athletes and helping professionals.  For athletes to make a smooth transformation (of any kind), they must understand how the athletic environment shapes their thoughts, feelings, and behavior. Understanding these environmental elements directs athletes to one of or multiple, athletic identity T2T perspectives, get your copy and learn more about the transition process of athletes.

Order your Book Today!









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Community College Student Athlete Success Conference Report


On October 28th 2016, the IPPD conducted a student athlete conference on the campus of West Los Angeles College. West Los Angeles College is one of 114 colleges of the California Community Colleges System. The IPPD requested that student athletes attending the conference complete a brief survey focused on exploring student athlete success. The following report highlights the key findings related to California Community College student athlete priorities and definitions of success.

Download the full report here:

Community College Student Athlete Success Conference Report

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Karen Schiferl, Associate AD for Student-Athlete Support Services at Eastern Michigan University

Karen Schiferl is currently the Associate AD for Student-Athlete Support Services at Eastern Michigan University.  Before arriving at EMU, she worked as the Associate AD for Academics and SWA at Chicago State, Senior Associate Athletic Director for Academic Support at the University of Mississippi.  As well as Senior Associate Director at the University of Maryland’s, and the Academic Coordinator in the athletic counseling offices for Northern Illinois University.   Karen started in athletics as a graduate intern for Indiana University’s Hoosier Athletic Academic Advising Office.  Karen has served on a multitude of national and regional academic boards and has presented at academic conferences across the country.  Currently, she is a member of the National Association of Academic Advisors for Athletics (N4A), the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA), and the National Consortium for Academics and Sports (NCAS). Schiferl has also received both the N4A’s Professional Promise Award and the Distinguished Service Award. Karen has a Master’s Degree in College Student Personnel Administration from Indiana University, earned her bachelor’s degree in Spanish and Afro-American Studies also from Indiana University.

Dr. Mark: How important has the mental health of the student-athlete become?

Ms. Schiferl: It has changed over the years, right now student athletes mental health is a real Hot Topic.  It wasn’t so much 10, 15 or 20 years ago. University student-athletes are 18 to 20-year-old kids. I know some people might be offended by me calling them kids, but they are in a stage of their life where they are growing and maturing and developing.

I would add if your working with student athletes you have to work to establish a relationship with the student athletes.  Getting to know them as an individual, is a key to developing that trust in a relationship to help them be successful.  The success of the student-athlete doesn’t happen by accident; it takes a lot of effort, it takes a village if you will, and I think that’s been consistent through the years. We just have more people in that community now helping.

Dr. Mark: Is there a direct connection between academic success and the personal development of the student-athlete?

Ms. Schiferl: You were a student-athlete 20 years ago, and at that time it was all about academics and GPA standards and graduation rates.  Now we had a more of a shift to the holistic development of the student-athlete.  Because in twenty years people might not remember your GPA, but they are going to remember if you were involved in community service and outreach or took advantage of personal development. As a student-athlete, those things are going to be more impactful.  It’s not to say that we don’t want to see student-athletes succeed academically because we do, but there is a broader picture that is beyond just academic support, there is a much more holistic view that’s happening beyond the academics.




Dr. Mark: Does a person actually need training in the life skills/student-athlete development profession to work with student athletes?

Ms. Schiferl: Yes, I think so. The evolution of student-athlete development is here, and you are now looking at career development, personal growth, community outreach and leadership all of the other aspects of developing a student-athlete. There are a lot of people that think they can work with student athletes or desire to work with student athletes. There seems to be this romantic notion about working with the student-athlete.  But there is a need for people that are interested in the profession to be able to understand what we are trying to do and how we are trying to do it.  So I think there does need to be some training and awareness from a professional.

Dr. Mark: Why are life skills/student-athlete development professionals usually at the bottom of the pay scale in the athletic department?

Ms. Schiferl: You know, I don’t have a good answer for that. Mark, you know obviously in many cases coaches are being paid lots and lots of money.  As well as other people in athletics that are paid at a higher rate than the folks working in the business of developing student-athletes personally.

Honestly, it’s a little bit like teachers in the education field. The value is not the same, but I am not sure why that is. People say it is hard to quantify what we accomplish.  Do you say, we’ve done x amount of hours of community service or we’ve done six presentations on personal development?  Entirely different from a coach, you can say well they won this many games they lost that many games. It’s a little bit harder to say this is what we are doing and this is how we are doing it. Which makes it difficult to put a value on duties and demonstrate the real worth, that would potentially get us paid a little bit more money.


Dr. Mark: Should student athletes have a personal development 4-year plan much like the 4-year academic plan?

Ms. Schiferl: Some institutions do better jobs than others, one of my goals at Eastern Michigan is to create a much more robust student development program.  I think our student athletes are doing a lot, but I don’t believe there is not a comprehensive, structured program right now.  It is my job to make sure that we pull together all of the things that they are already doing and make it into a structural program so that not only they’re getting from point A to point B but now they are going from point B to point C and then beyond.


Dr. Mark: Is athletic identity real?

Ms. Schiferl: It’s very real and even more so now.  Things have changed in youth sports.  When I was a youngster we might have played multiple sports, it isn’t the same now. Parents are spending a fortune traveling their kids across the country to be involved in one sport. They are investing all kinds of money into recruiting services to get kids a college scholarship.  Athletic identity starts younger now, much younger.    Athletic identity is implanted in the student-athlete, and they have to understand and know its a critical part of their identity. There’s more to an athlete than just being that athlete. And so the more that we can help them to understand that yes you’ve got some great skill that you’ve acquired as an athlete how do you make them transferable to other areas of life, but yes I think the athletic identity is real, definitely real.


Dr. Mark: How important is it for student-athletes to focus on the transitions they experience in sports?

Ms. Schiferl:  Oh it’s huge,  I think that’s just absolutely massive it’s imperative that we help them develop those skills so they can transition successfully. Student athletes get so caught up in their athletic identity and being an athlete that they sometimes become unaware of all the other things, the positive things that they are capable of doing. The more we can do to help them understand the skills that they have, and how these skills are transferable to the real world to make sure they know they can have a successful transition.

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Memoir of an Athlete, Brandon Ballard, Part Two

The Sophomore Year 

The sophomore year, a time I believe regular students begin their collegiate manifest is the time student-athletes should start forming their plan of what is going to happen to them after they receive their degree.” I had a good GPA, and enough connections to join the Fraternity & Sorority Life going through the initiation process for Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., expanding my network to like-minded individuals that had major career ambitions, preached service, and scholarship. Although the frat was enriching, it wasn’t a solution to my particular needs.

After going through an up and down matriculation as an undergraduate student-athlete not fully committing to what I wanted to do.  I found myself having to make a tough decision between academics and athletics.  I was a nursing major who was applying for the nursing program but failed to get accepted because my GPA was a 3.23 when the program required a minimum 3.25 GPA for consideration. You had to be excellent in your science classes, and I simply was not.

Eligibility is a huge part of the NCAA system that influences student-athletes’ experiences participating on the field of competition as well as in the classroom. Unfortunately for me, all of my credits were towards the nursing program that just declined me. I had to make the decision to either switch my major to a degree outside of health and sit a whole year out from competing.  Or make the credits already achieved through the nursing track work in another health related major to continue participating in sport, so I chose to leave the nursing dream and major in Health Services Administration.

Activity restriction for changing majors is one of the many problems non-student athletes never encounter because they are not governed by NCAA legislation nor is there a rule that prevents or punishes non-student athletes from changing majors. I chose the best financial and athletic choice for me at that time because I wasn’t on a full scholarship and did not want to sit out a year because of academics. That was the first time I chose athletics, money and time over my education. I was in a major I didn’t like and had to find some way to use it for my post-graduation development.

The Junior Year 

The first week of my junior year, I informed the Vice President of the Student-Athlete Leadership Council (SALC), my teammate, Marcus Ghent, and the Athletic Director for Student-Athlete Development, Liz Augustin, that I wanted to step up and play a bigger role in SALC. It only took me reaching out to these people in power to ignite my drive once again. I was in SALC helping athletes and a team captain now for my team. The (SALC) is a group of the elected team leaders that provide student-athletes an avenue to enhance their leadership skills both on and off the field.  The council provides student-athletes opportunities to have their voice heard and offered input on the rules, regulations, and policies that affect student-athletes’ on NCAA member institution campuses. It was during this time I decided on a career in this realm of athletics but did not know how to nor did I actively do any research into the industry I desired to enter.  I spent a large part of this year wondering and trying to decide what was to be my passion outside of athletics and while actively participating in the SALC, I was still unsure of any direction I would venture into after my athletic eligibility would expire.

The Transition and My Senior Year 

During my senior year I was awarded an internship with Athlete Network my duties included spreading the companies brand and services provided to fellow athletes offering them a “LinkedIn” for athletes by athletes, and yes, I thought I was gaining leeway to get my foot in the door in the collegiate athletics industry. Up until this point as an athlete, I made good decisions and had every intention of graduating without losing focus.  However, I made a huge mistake, which resulted in the wake-up call I needed to motivate me in preparation for the real world.

The FIU Life Skills department invited a speaker to campus.  The topic was social media, and I signed up to attend the meeting but made the mistake of taking a nap and ended up oversleeping.  When I contacted the presenter via email to request the PowerPoint presentation, he responded, “We don’t get unlimited chances to have the things we want, nothing is worse than missing an opportunity that could have changed your life.” I will never know if that presentation would have changed my life because I never received it.  However, his direct and cold response did, in fact, change my life.

The following day, I went into super networking mode and started calling/emailing a list of 70+ Division 1 school’s life skills/athlete development directors.  A process which lasted several weeks and although I was still competing in track meets, I continued seeking “Industry Insight” and connections to land a job or assistantship because I knew graduation was coming fast. As all high school student athletes trying to attain the opportunity to compete at the next level should be aware; you have to put yourself out there. You pick up networking skills sending your highlight tape or statistics to coaches just looking for a chance and don’t even know it. I was in full get an opportunity mode as if I were a recruit.

Weeks later, I landed an interview at the University of Arkansas for a graduate assistantship position in academics but couldn’t attend the on-campus interview because I was scheduled to compete in my last conference indoor track and field competition. Before the Skype interview could be arranged,  the position was filled, I felt so close and knew my athletic career got in the way of my career ambitions yet again. I was down to one last on-call interview with the University of South Carolina and was out of connection opportunities, but I noticed I missed one email reply. I scheduled my last “Industry Insight” call with Raymond Harrison of Texas A&M. We had a great conversation as I had with the previous directors, I mentioned to him how my last interview with Arkansas fell out and how I’d be interviewing for the University of South Carolina. Unbeknownst to me, he was a former director at South Carolina, and he said he would put in a good word for me because I seemed genuine in my approach to him over the phone. Now I don’t know if that connection was ever made, but I went through the interview process and was happy to receive notice that I would be a future graduate assistant at the University of South Carolina. My foot was finally in the door.

The Reality of the Real World and Transitioning 

As a collegiate athlete, I was under the impression that the NCAA was a system taking advantage of the student-athlete and I wanted to change that. Now that I work in athletics; in academics and enrichment with my assigned academic advisor, my experience is a weekly eye opener not to blame the NCAA but establish a new system where student-athletes take full advantage of their scholarship, resources, and collegiate opportunity. Transitioning from the role of student-athlete to potential academic advisor operating under the scope of the SEC only exposed me to this deposition that I was always intrigued about.

I think of the majority of black student athletes across the country that need someone that looks, talks, thinks and operates like them to deliver a needed message of hope for their lives after sport. Who will lead/mentor this group of student-athletes to go above and beyond the realm of what the NCAA and their athletics program expect from them and reach for the stars? Team captains; coaches; academic advisors; life skills coordinators? This formula continues to leave out the athletes that could be motivated by one of their own. We are the present, past and future black student athletes. We are black millennials student-athletes, we want things now. We operate differently than the previous norms, and it’s proven.

The NCAA system does offer a lot of programs such as the Life Skills Symposium, the postgraduate internship, and the Leadership Forum, however, the symposium or event that caters to the personal development of black student-athletes and defines how this population can positively transition out of collegiate sports is not being offered.  The NCAA system is missing targeted advising, youthful speeches at life skills events, genuine cultural sensitive mentorship – an opportunity for black student-athletes to network with each other and general student-athlete guidance eliminating the attitude of “what did the NCAA do for me?” Replacing it with the fulfillment of having the full collegiate student-athlete experience.


The experiences of the black millennial student-athlete can range from the less fortunate to the most opportune. America is a place for opportunity, and understanding that the black student-athlete from the lowest of low incomes and opportunity can accomplish something as great as receiving a full scholarship to educate themselves is incredible. But what we should start proposing is the fact that education and the degree are not enough.  Implementing the personal development foundation or building upon an existing foundation is key to creating a pathway towards a passion for becoming more than just a student-athlete.

We must ask and answer the following questions truthfully.  Are the leadership on the high school and NCAA level providing personal development needs and reaching as many student athletes as possible? Have we tried all ideas presented?  A more important question, what are the black journalist and athletic leaders doing regarding the personal development needs of the black athlete?  I am willing to step up and play a leadership role to assist in the personal development needs of this unique population.  I’m hungry to take on this role to lead a generation of black student athletes that are indeed unsure of the transition to and from collegiate athletics.


Brandon Ballard

Master’s Candidate in Sports & Entertainment Management | University of  South Carolina | Dodie Academic Enrichment Center Graduate Assistant


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Memoir of an Athlete, Brandon Ballard, Part One

The successful journey of the current student-athlete begins and ends well outside of the realm of their performance in their perspective setting of play. History is being made, and records are vanishing due to the millennial student-athlete as well as the black millennial student-athlete. All student athletes that make it to the college level share the same feelings of accomplishment knowing they are the select few that will have the opportunity to continue their athletic career beyond high school or club play.

I genuinely believe there is not a universal comprehension of the stories behind each and every student-athlete that make this enormous accomplishment come true. A student-athlete must meet all sorts of guidelines before they have the choice to accept the opportunity to be a collegiate student-athlete based on their athletic abilities. I remember when my high school counselors and coaches informed the team that it was time to complete the NCAA Eligibility Center, diploma, and standardized test score requirements if you were serious about performing on the next level. Of course, I had no idea things like this existed, but I completed the task because that’s what it took. There are plenty of student-athlete stories that stop there. Not because of their athletic ability but because they couldn’t meet those three requirements stated alone. Who’s to say they shouldn’t have the opportunity to better themselves because of those requirements when they’ve made it so far already.

An important entity we should not overlook is the background of a student athlete, which includes their personal development. Student-athletes come from single, two-parent, legal guardian upbringings from all races and environments, which play a huge role in the personal development of the student-athlete entering college.

The personal development portfolio student-athletes carry with them through their journey is often dormant because their sports desires either over influence them not to speak to someone about their personal growth needs or they are unaware such resources even exists.

Fortunately for me, I was raised by both of my college-educated parents (my mother, who ran track) in a single home with a general sense of self-love and thankfulness to have a solid personal development foundation. Although they were college graduates, the dynamic of being a college athlete in this generation is different, so the foundation they provided me with had to be tinkered with, once I finally made the decision to attend Florida International University, located in Miami, FL and run track their as a walk-on my freshman year.

However, coming out of high school in 2012 being named the “Student Athlete” of the Year I was not informed of the opportunities to personally develop myself that would surround me being a student-athlete in college. The general sentiments of “You made it!” seems to plague college student athletes, not knowing that college is only the beginning. Advising the high school student athlete of the resources they can use to network and build their inner-being before they are sent off to college is critical.

Personal development is needed at the collegiate level. The dynamics my university offered were everything a high school athlete could imagine. However, if it weren’t for my upbringing and constant contact with my parents, my grades would’ve been atrocious. Resulting in me never earning the scholarship I was aiming for since making the decision to go to FIU. Your coaches can control you while you’re at practice and your adviser can guide you through the educational process but when you are alone with your “friends;” who is responsible for providing the personal development facets needed to help you become the best collegiate athlete you can be?

The Freshman Year Student-Athlete Experience

I walked on campus in Miami, moved into my dorm by myself, and was immediately the new track guy.  I had the identity as the new track guy before people could even get to know my name. Maybe because the first day I had arrived I was given an FIU Track and Field hat and rocked it all throughout freshman orientation, but truly it was because I was a student-athlete amongst regular college students. Athletics was number one from the beginning; I was there to perform, get the scholarship and get the degree. I was unaware of the type of advantages I could receive being an athlete and a student.  I separate the words for a moment to emphasize the difference between a collegiate athlete to a full-time student. As an athlete, I was exposed to all the other athletes from different backgrounds and immediately shared bonds and built friendships/connections.  But from my vantage point, the rules and regulations for us are different to the non-student athlete.

My fellow athletes and I walked around campus with a particular mantra about ourselves; you were an elite athlete. At my school, there was a little less than 50 thousand students enrolled but only about 350 student athletes, who for the most part all stayed on campus at a commuter school.

We were loud and proud about our FIU, wearing the gear we received. Of course, we were grinding working our butts off to be the best athletes we could be, but that constant appeal of being the athletes on campus in Miami, FL of all places can be mesmerizing. Too mesmerizing for some as I had probably lost more than two dozen teammates to the “Miami Animal” of endless fun and women/men. I was close to losing my opportunity as well, with a couple of run-ins with the campus police that could’ve ended terribly.


Read Part Two



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Transitional Management Program for Athletes

The Institute for Personal Player Development has launched its Transitional Management program for athletes of all ages.  Most people believe the transition is a one-time occurrence which takes place at the end of an athlete’s athletic career, but that is not entirely true.  A transition can occur as a result of many things such as an athlete entering college as a Freshman, and moving on to Sophomore, Junior and Senior year.  Transitions occur when athletes transfer schools or are asked to redshirt or play a new position.  They also occur when an athlete is charged with a crime or removed from the institution.   But the biggest transition is the final transition, leaving the athletic experience altogether.



For information on the Institute for Personal Player Development, Transitional Management program click here:  Transitional Management Program




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Athletes and Transitional Management

The disturbing transformation of Cliff Harris a one-time All-American high school athlete, Pack 12 champion, and former NFL hopeful is unfortunate but not new.  In fact, athletes self-destructive behavior post career is becoming a common theme for collegiate and professional athletes who are forced to transition out of sports. Transitional Management is a term we rarely associate with sports however the lack of transitional management services afforded to collegiate and professional athletes is at a minimum, and the need seems to be ever growing.

When Michael Phelps retired from swimming, he lost his identity and didn’t have any direction.  According to Phelps “I took some wrong turns and found myself in the darkest places you could ever imagine, that I hope nobody ever goes.”  The reality of Phelps loss of identity will be experienced by many collegiate and professional athletes. Although the athletic community and media witness issues and challenges athletes face, we still have not grasped the formula to assist young men and women who give us their all.”



What’s the cause of athletes spiraling out of control after they leave the game and what is needed to prevent it?  The proper term is Athletic Identity Transitional Management. Consider it a guide to understanding the multilevel platform of transitions experienced through sports participation, with a careful examination of the thought and behavior process associated with a significant change.  When we understand the process of thinking and behavior, we then can begin to work toward a successful transition.  According to Ronnie Stokes, former Ohio State standout, “Transitional support services are vitally important, unfortunately, kids leave college ill-equipped in certain areas, they are thrown out and expected to survive in a number of sectors, and the transition is an ongoing process.”

Some argue why should any collegiate or professional organization provide transitional management services for former players?  After all, when an employee or volunteer is fired or leaves a volunteer position in the workforce, they are never provided transitional management services. My argument is simple, these staff and volunteers that work for a company didn’t dedicate a significant part of their youth and adult life to that profession or that company, neglecting other opportunities in pursuit of becoming the best athlete they can be.

The transition from sports to the real world is documented as a difficult one.    However, athletes experience many transitions before transitioning out of sports, which we neglect.  Collegiate and professional organizations seem to have issues and challenges providing adequate programs and resources to assist athletes when experiencing a transition.  While they have programs in place, these programs are either, out of touch or misinformed on the particular type of services athletes require. Therefore, we are witnessing unfortunate stories of athletes who have everything going for themselves and end up with nothing.

If we expect athletes behavior in and outside of the sport to improve, our behavior, understanding, and approach to assisting athletes with the transitional phases need to improve as well.  More importantly, accountability for the well-being of athletes must become more than lip service or driven by the buddy system, specifically on the collegiate level.

Athletes dedicate years to the sport and the athletic community as he/she attempts to become the best they can be, meanwhile providing entertainment for fans, alumni, as well as generating revenue. Collegiate and professional organizations have an obligation to provide transitional management services for athletes they encounter, even when an athlete is removed from the institution for a disciplinary reason.  Was Cliff Harris provided any assistance during the  transitions he encountered while providing athletically related services?  Has anyone reached out to offer assistance to him now?

It’s sad when a former collegiate athlete will receive a letter or call from their universities foundation soliciting dollars but never receive a phone call from the athletic department asking how they are managing the transition.

For information on the Institute for Personal Player Development, Transitional Management program click here:  Transitional Management Program




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