An exploration of career sustainability in and after professional sport
Abstract Drawing on an international qualitative study of former professional athletes, this paper examines career sustainability in and after a career in professional sport. It examines the individual, contextual and temporal dimensions of career sustainability and interprets the findings through the Job-Demands-Resources Model, identifying the physical and psychological demands and resources of sporting careers. It demonstrates that some demands can simultaneously present as resources and introduces the concept of ‘social’ demands and resources, signaling their potential impact on short and long term career sustainability. While the paper suggests that the demands and resources of careers in professional sport limit career sustainability as a professional athlete, it also indicates that a short term career in sport does not preclude longer term career sustainability in other domains. The paper concludes by identifying opportunities for further investigation into the impact of short term careers on long term career sustainability in the broader labor market.