Television will display the grandeur of a professional athlete. Those individuals are famous and rich. “In 2016, the average annual income for a US household was $57,617 while the average income of a professional athlete in the major leagues was between $2.1-$6.5 million.” (1) Outside the major sports the annual for professional athletes is lower. “As of Feb 22, 2020, the average annual pay for a Professional Athlete in the United States is $46,473 a year.” (2) If you’re an athlete wanting to earn a living wage in archery the odds are low for your success even if you are competing at a high level. The income range for professional archers is: $10,000 – $75,000, for Olympic archers: $36,000 – $97,000. (3)
There is a sales representative I know. He’s good at his job. Before he took the sales position his job was as an offensive lineman for the New England Patriots. The sales position was a nice transition from football. I know another guy that pitched for a winning team in the MLB World Series. He too is a salesman, today. In both cases, their former celebrity has been as asset in their current roles. Plus, both are good with people and smart. There’s a former Olympian who won 5 Gold Medals who today is a physician. The point is that money in sports can be good so long as it is good. No one lasts forever in athletics.
Last week, at the USA Indoor National Championship I shot on the same bale as college students for both days. A number of those athletes have college scholarships as archers. Talking with two I learned one is becoming a mechanical engineer the other a nurse practitioner. The average income for a mechanical engineer is $86,000 per years. (4) The average income for a nurse practitioner is $107,460. (5) For someone that goes the medical route and becomes a Chief Medical Officer the annual mean income is $402, 483. (6) Of course, that prize is similar to making the big leagues in sports. In all three cases the annual income is greater than the recently published average earning for professional athletes – $46,473 per year. (2)
The student archers at the indoor championships are smart. Staying on their paths will lead them to a comfortable rewarding life so long as they don’t over extend that potential credit. (Pay as you go – you’ll get there.)
Steve Young, the ex-49er quarterback took his team to a 13-3 record, won the NFL MVP and graduated from law school in 1994. (7) He’s never practiced law, but he used that education to propel him in other areas after football. Just because he was a super athlete he didn’t disregard a backup plan. He was attending law school while playing professional football.
The point is that while those athletes on television seem to be living a magical life the wealth that comes with it can vanish in an instant. The odds of landing one of those mega-rich positions are extremely low. Never disregard the earning potential of education.
And, don’t think a college degree is the only financially rewarding path. An air conditioning technical, with 3 classes from a technical school on average earns $43,640 annually. (8) The upper 10% of these technicians earns over $68,000. (8) That is an excellent return on investment (the investment being the cost for the classes.) Certainly a wiser investment than attending college and earning a degree in Greek Mythology or thinking you’ll become an athlete earning millions shooting arrows into paper.
Enjoy your sport. When you are doing it compartmentalize your brain and bring all your focus on that sport. When you’re done, say you put down your bow, focus on the next skill. That next focus might be on classes or being the best at your day job. You could end up using both – being excellent as an athlete and having educational training that will provide a decent living. Like Kanas City Chief’s offensive guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif who is a physician. (9).
Even Reo Wilde held a day job outside of archery before using his archery success to allow him full time employment in archery. (10)