In college I was a scholarship athlete with no bills and minimal responsibilities. In 2008 I had the good fortune of being drafted by the Washington Nationals, a Washington, D.C-based Major League Baseball team. Two days later I started my new job as a professional athlete, my life was changed forever.
Here’s what professional sports taught me about life and how that experience prepared me for entrepreneurship.
What Professional Sports Taught Me About Life
The average person believes playing professional sports is all glitz and glamour. Most will tell you it is easy and that “you are just playing a game!” However, having played baseball at the professional level I know first hand that those people are absolutely wrong. As a new pro baseball player I soon learned that the job was full of responsibilities, hardships, competition and stress.
I quickly received a crash course in”grown-up stuff.” Upon relocating to Vermont, I was abruptly told to “find someplace to live and transportation to the field everyday.” Keep in mind that I had never worried about these things before. Suddenly I was looking up bus schedules, searching for local housing and negotiating a month-to-month lease with no deposit. At the same time I had “the game” of baseball to worry about.
As a new player, at the lowest level of the organization, I quickly realized that I would have to work harder than ever to reach the top.
Not only did I have to outplay my teammates, I also had to think about 200 other players in the organization looking to make the 25-man big league roster. The competition was fierce.
But in retrospect, the hardest aspect of playing a professional sport was dealing with the mental assault of a season. Every single day for 6 months, you arrive at the park at noon for a 7 o’clock game. Then you proceed to workout, practice and study scouting reports for the game later that night. There are no weekends off; you may get one day off a month if you are lucky.
Overall, you put in anywhere from 10-12 hours a day and then go right back to the park and do it all over again. This did not include a chocked-full traveling schedule. It’s not uncommon to travel after a game through the night, arriving at sunrise, to nap for a few hours and then head to the park to start all over again.
There was no time for being sick, tired, or unfocused.
At times it was very hard to stay upbeat and positive. But ultimately I understood that I was doing all of this to reach my dream.