Hidden Costs Every Athlete Should Consider
Megan Howard provides advice on the hidden costs of being an athlete.
Honing your athletic abilities to the point where you can become a part-time or full-time professional sportsman or woman is something many of us aspire to. However, while there are medals to win, trophies to hoist, coaches to impress, and fans to win over, there are also some essential considerations to make before you set your sights on a life of athletic performance.
There are many hidden costs that athletes pay in exchange for their high levels of skill, performance, and physical prowess. These costs can range from financial expenses to material costs and even the dangers of constant athletic pressure from family, friends, coaches and peers.
Read on as we delve into the hidden costs of being an athlete and arm yourself with the information you need to make informed choices as a sportsman.
Pursuing athletic activities may seem like a low-cost way of gaining fitness and physical skill. With that said, there are plenty of costs involved in training, especially if you would like to get to a professional level within a specific time. According to Amanda Allen at Breaking Muscle, a CrossFit Games-level professional athlete foots many weekly and monthly expenses that are important to know about before you follow a similar path.
Allen’s breakdown included costs such as protein powder, supplements like BCAAs, creatine, beta-alanine, taurine, glutamine, and L-carnitine, and vitamins, including B, C, multivitamins, zinc, fish oil, magnesium and more. It also included the costs of a nutritionist or naturopath, the expenses of pro coaching, and specialised clothing and training equipment.
The breakdown made provisions for super-foods to keep athletes in good health. Plus, it included grass-fed meats, organic eggs and dairy, protein bars and more athlete-specific health foods. Also on the list were weekly massages and physiotherapy. Along with floats and cryotherapy to relieve muscle stiffness and keep the body in great shape while minimising the risk of strain. Last but not least was the cost of travelling to competitions (or to your training gym). The breakdown averaged these costs out at $585 per week, roughly £445 per week in the UK.
It is important to remember that these are only the basic costs an athlete will face. This does not include rent, mortgage payments or accommodation, fuel costs, general groceries, entertainment, holidays, or other day-to-day expenses. It does not include gym fees or doctor’s appointments when necessary. The higher you rank as an athlete, the more likely it is that sponsors will help you cover your costs, but all of these costs may fall to you if you are training on your own time.
For many years, the US Surgeon General has recommended long duration and high-intensity training to solve the growing issues of obesity, heart disease and metabolic syndrome in our society. However, the Surgeon General has also highlighted an increased risk of injury as the primary risk involved in this approach. Many recent studies, including a paper by Conn et al. published in Injury Prevention, highlight the under-researched and infrequently spoken about the issue of injury in recreational sports and athletics. The number-one determinant of injury in sports is the nature of the activity itself, with those who play contact sports at the highest risk. According to the study, personal injury history plays an important role, particularly in younger athletes.
The paper used data from the National Health Interview survey to further explore the hidden costs of athletic injury. It found that 28% of working adults have lost at least one day a year from work due to sports injuries. And, for people aged 5 to 24 years, sports injuries account for one out of every five injury episodes. The researchers recommend using protective equipment, stricter rules in sports, and proper after-activity care as reliable ways to reduce the risk of athletic injury.
The Dangers of Athletic Pressure
Athletes are often viewed as being muscular, powerful, fit and healthy. But this can come at a cost. Many athletes feel pressure from their peers and the public. They think they are expected to look and perform in specific ways to classify a successful sportsman and woman. It is not easy to predict the outcomes of this pressure. But some expected consequences include the development of eating disorders, mental health challenges, and physical injury due to overexercising.
Athletes may severely limit their eating habits to remain as streamlined as possible to excel at their sports of choice. Some athletes feel pressured to look as fit and muscular as possible to be accepted into the sporting world. This could be why athletes are three times more likely to develop eating disorders than the average person and why around 62% of athletes involved in high-intensity sports develop eating disorders.
Professional athletes can get subjected to harsh comments from the public and their trainers, particularly about their weight and looks. The rise of social media has compounded this, and sportspeople are now regularly subjected to the sight and criticisms of hundreds of thousands of other internet users. Men and women are both prone to the development of eating disorders. However, women are particularly at risk, with around 33% of female gymnasts showing signs of anorexia.
Athletes are thus encouraged to work closely alongside a nutritionist. In doing this, they can ensure that they meet their daily macro and micro-nutrient intake requirements without restricting their portions or food intake too heavily. Those interested in losing, gaining or maintaining a certain weight should always do so through the guidance of a professional.
A Potentially Costly Exercise
Pursuing a life of recreational or professional athleticism has many hidden costs. Knowing how to forecast and budget for these costs is essential as they are a crucial part of your success.
Doing your research and knowing about the risks and costs beforehand will help you make better, more sustainable choices. Your training, diet, mental health and bank balance will suffer if you do not plan.
If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:
About the Author
Megan Howard is a freelance journalist.