When an athlete announces his or her retirement after a lifetime of dedication and discipline, the big question is: what’s next? Many choose to stay involved in their sport, often as coaches or commentators, while others venture into the business world. Thanks to social media, athletes can still stay connected to their fans.
Social media has become so important for athletes, as a way to engage with and speak to their fans while in the prime of their athletic careers. But, what happens post competition and retirement?
Life after professional sports can be quite a transition for those who were once the center of the spotlight, but with social media, athletes can remain top of mind with fans. Athletes have a direct channel of communication with their audience, where they can talk about their new life and new challenges. Social media is also great for retired athletes to continue working with brands.
Michael Phelps is the most decorated athlete in Olympic history, with 28 metals. Phelps has more than 13 million followers on social media — where he shares pictures and videos of his past workouts, podcast episodes with brand sponsor Whoop, and discussions around the importance of mental health in partnership with TalkSpace.
Becoming a coach is a path that emerges after retirement from top competition. The examples are endless, and we see them across many sports like soccer, basketball, and tennis, to name a few. One player turned coach is Steven Gerrard — the former Liverpool FC, LA Galaxy, and England National Team player now coaches for Aston Villa.
Gerard’s more than 13 million social media followers (including 10 million on Instagram) experience his work with the team, images of his family life, and brand promotions with such sponsors as Hyundai, adidas, and EA Sport.
The best Spanish basketball player of all time, Pau Gasol, is very active on social media. At the Tokyo Olympics, Gasol, took the role of fan, celebrating the medals won by the Spanish delegation.
Gasol also talks about book recommendations to his followers, promotes his basketball academy, preaches physical activity and healthy living, and posts frequently with his sponsor Nike.
Since Gasol was appointed UNICEF ambassador 19 years ago, he has shown his 14 million social media followers the work done by this organization.
It is common in sports broadcasts that a journalist is teamed up with a former player who, thanks to his/her experience, offers a different point of view of a game to the viewers. Alex Corretja has traded in his racquet for the microphone; he commentates for Eurosport and TVE during the tennis tournaments. Corretja is also the face of the clothing brand Cortefiel and through his social media, he gives the brand valuable exposure.