It seems that this is the common perception that not only footballers but sports men and women in general are labelled as unintelligent or thick.

On so many occasions as a sports agent, the people we meet whether professionals or general workers, have the same common misconception of sportspeople. Yet if we were to put any professional, regardless of their industry under the spotlight we could easily highlight their own strengths and weaknesses.

Just put yourself in the shoes of ‘Little Johnny’ ,at Melchester United since the age of 11, totally focussed on the dream of becoming a professional footballer and treading the hallowed turf for the team he and his family have supported all of their lives, engrained in the ‘fabric’ of his family and upbringing. At the age of 18, he realises his dream, and all the focus and effort that he and his parents have put into his footballing career since the age of 8, when Johnny signs his first professional contract. So he has spent 10 years fine tuning his motor skills and his footballing knowledge to achieve his dream.  Doesn’t this allow for us to give him a little bit of leeway in such things as his communication skills, his academic ability, even his interpersonal skills with those outside of his sport and family – well apparently not, he is labelled as thick.

Many associates of mine (as may be the case with yourself) are experts in their respective fields – they may be high flying business people, legal experts, investment and finance wizards, teachers, but this is not to say that they can do each other’s jobs or even be fully proficient in another area like driving or even golf ….. yet are they labelled as stupid or in-effective ?

I personally remember taking my options at secondary school at the age of 14, for the subjects that I ‘thought’ I wanted to study and point me in the direction of a job or career. Then I fine tuned them again at 16 before going to college, yet when going to university I totally changed direction once again – needless to say since then my career path has metamorphosed yet again.

So is it fair to label an individual, who has been so dedicated and focussed on realising a career in professional sports as uneducated? …….. in my opinion no (yours may differ).

Remember, in most cases a professional sportsperson has undertaken this intense education and chosen their options at a far earlier age than most of us have had to assess our academic options and future careers. In fact I remember at school, that a fellow pupil sat exams at the age of 10, six years in advance of her peers, and was subsequently labelled a genius in the local and national media – but was no means labelled as thick on the basis of her sporting ability when she was 25.

For example the speed at which some footballers brain’s work on the pitch either in terms of reaction or anticipation is not far off ‘genius’, yet when they speak to the media or appear at an event it is ‘open season’ in targeting such things as their academic background or verbal dexterity.

So How Do Chiron Address This –

It is often seen by some agents and providers alike as an opportunity to prey on the naivety and professional focus of the sporting client so to maximise their own personal and business rewards. Also some may even support the client excessively, and in effect this inevitably leads to the ‘blinkers’ remaining on the sporting client until a point when it is too late to raise their personal awareness.

At Chiron we carefully select the people we work with and associate ourselves with, when supporting our sporting clients.  It is not a matter of commissions or introducers – this is short term thinking that does not benefit the client or agent.

Our aim through the Chiron support network is not just to do the job for the client, but we aim to educate and work with them so that they can make their own educated decisions on what is best for them, their careers, their families and their lives. This in our eyes is a far better approach for all involved as it leads to a long term relationship and plan that should optimise the sports person’s career.

In Summary –

I’m not faultless, neither am I superman, I am not an expert at everything. I think the whole thing of this is best described by successful entrepreneur and businessman Duncan Bannatyne (in his book ‘Anyone Can Do It,) that your main strength is recognising your weaknesses, and in doing this get the right experts in place to work alongside you and enable you to make making the correct decisions.

So the next time you are at a business event, in your local pub or restaurant, at work or on the golf course and you hear someone insinuate “footballers are thick”, just reflect on where that persons weaknesses are : when they can’t switch their mobile phone to silent or even hit a straight drive off the first tee.

©2010 Chiron Sports and Media™