The decisions you make off-the-court are just as important as the decisions you make while playing basketball. Not making good choices can be extremely costly for you, your sponsors, and the sport in general. Even small, everyday decisions can potentially have a significant impact on your career.
Much of your earning potential is related to your reputation on and off-the-court. Teams want to hire players who are known to be hard working and reliable. Sponsors want to work with athletes who make good choices and stay out of trouble in public. And fans want to cheer for athletes who have a reputation for being good people in all aspects of their lives.
There are three keys to making good choices regarding public behaviour as an elite athlete:
- Be very aware of your surroundings
In today’s day and age, privacy is giving way to 24-7 media coverage and instant access to information. (Social) media keep us connected, they also present a real challenge to public figures trying to maintain some privacy off the field of play. You can’t control these social media phenomena, but you can control your actions by making good decisions.
Always assume that someone else is watching and before you act, take five seconds to consider the potential consequences of your behaviour. It may sound silly, but a good rule of thumb is WWMMT – “what would my mom think?”. If your mom wouldn’t approve, you can bet someone with a phone or camera might think it’s worth posting online.
- Remember that you are a public figure and representative of basketball
When you chose to be an elite athlete, you also accepted that you may become a public figure. People will recognise you, look up to you and want to know more about you. It may seem unfair that you have to sacrifice some of your privacy, but that is simply part of the ‘job’.
As a public figure, people are watching what you do and are often waiting for you to make a mistake. Any behaviours that tarnish your reputation could also tarnish your relationship with sponsors and employers. Always keep that in mind. If certain actions off-the-court could lead to career or financial losses, then think twice before you carry them out.
- Keep in mind that the past will stay forever
You might be young now. Perhaps, you still don’t know if you will become a professional player. If you are reading this, there are high chances that you will. So, please, keep in mind that whatever happens now will remain forever. Social media is here to stay. Same as your actions appearing on it. Keep this in mind and start making good choices today. Don’t wait until becoming a pro athlete. Your posts and actions from today will influence your future opportunities.
Making smart choices mainly involves common sense and respect for those who may be affected by the decisions you make.