What Does It Take to Become a Professional Athlete?

The life of professional athletes may seem a dream for many. After all, they have everything – the money, the fame, the girls… what’s not to like about this? Surely many have dreamed about becoming one at one point or another in their lives. But being a professional athlete is not all about fame and fortune. There is a lot more to it than most of us would imagine – hard work, passion, and dedication. Not to mention the surprising amount of money it costs to raise a professional athlete.

Years of training

Passion and talent for one sport or another can show early in one’s life. Ideally, a child with an affinity for soccer, basketball or another discipline will join a team early, having a chance to learn and develop the skills needed to succeed. It takes a combination of talent, passion, and hard work for a child to become really good at a certain sport. Often, the child athlete is spotted early by scouts and joins sports clubs that can help them find their way to a professional career.

In football, talented players are often signed by major clubs at an early age, invited to join a youth academy, and often offered contracts as soon as they become eligible for one. Other sports often work in a similar fashion: scouts are spotting youngsters with potential, and often offer them contracts from major teams.

The “chance”

Quite often, young athletes have the potential to become stars in their disciplines but they simply don’t get the chance to shine. Sometimes, they are stuck at an amateur level because there is simply nobody around who could discover their talent and affinity for their sports.

Without de Brito, Pelé might have been stuck playing indoor football in Bauru. Without Joe E. Martin, Cassius Clay may have been little more than another black kid in Louisville, Kentucky. And without the coach of Benfica, Joao Felix might have given up football after Porto dismissed him for his slight frame – now, he is the most expensive Portuguese football player in history.

Is it worth it?

The saying “Find a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life” has been attributed to several famous faces from Roman emperor Marcus Antonius to American writer and journalist Ernest Hemingway. This doesn’t make it any less inspiring. Professional athletes are passionate about their craft – otherwise, they wouldn’t’ve chosen that career path – so they get to be paid for something they love to do anyway. And being a pro has benefits that go beyond the turf, the ring, the track – depending on the sport.

Being a professional athlete usually comes with a certain amount of fame, and this comes with the added benefit of a larger social circle, not to mention a larger dating pool. Add the potentially large social media following to the mix, which can represent an opportunity in itself. Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the greatest footballers alive, has an Instagram following of more than 200 million – and this helps him make millions a year from paid posts alone.