Abstract

As a sporting career at the highest level is relatively short, many elite athletes choose to de-velop a new professional career after their sporting career. Perseverance and dealing with ad-versity are typically pointed out as competencies former elite athletes possess and which may pave the way for also being a valuable employee. Given this perception, career development re-search engaged in identifying athletes and career support providers’ perspectives on the chal-lenges, barriers, and resources relevant to athletes pursuing another vocational career (e.g., B-WISER, 2018). Nevertheless, research considering the perspective of employers regarding ath-letes as employees is scarce. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate the perceptions of em-ployers (not) to employ active and/or former elite athletes.

Focus groups and semi-structured interviews with 58 employers (42% female) from six Euro-pean countries (Belgium = 14, Germany = 3, Italy = 15, Slovenia = 14, Spain = 8, Sweden = 4) were conducted. Employers from both the public (38%) and private (62%) employment sector were sampled and represented sport-related (26%; e.g., Olympic Committees, sport research institutions, sport policy institutions) and nonsport-related (74%; e.g., audit and tax services, sales) organizations.

Thematic data analysis revealed athlete-related and employer-related reasons to both employ and not employ athletes. The main reasons put forward by employers to employ athletes in-cluded life skills, awareness and recognition, sport affinity and organizational policy. On the other hand, gaps in both athletes’ personal and vocational development (e.g., lack of job specific skills, lack of availability, unrealistic expectations, lack of job search competencies) were seen as reasons not to employ athletes. Additionally, some practical reasons (e.g., limited availability, no financial or legal advantage) made employers believe that athletes do not make good em-ployees. In general, however, it should be noted that employers’ decision to or not to employ a new workforce is mainly based on the person itself and the competencies accompanied with the person, rather than on the title of athlete.

This is the first study to explore the broader spectrum of employers’ perspectives on athletes’ employability. Findings can provide a basis to develop methods and promote the added value of employing elite athletes.


Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFISU World Conference
Subtitle of host publication30th Winter Universiade Lucerne 2021 Switzerland
PublisherFISU
Pages38-38
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2021
EventFISU World Conference: 30th Winter Universiade Lucerne 2021 Switzerland -
Duration: 13 Dec 202114 Dec 2021

Conference

ConferenceFISU World Conference
Period13/12/2114/12/21

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