Hectic Life Of A Professional Athlete

Happy New Year, to all the readers of the Fiji Sun. I’m sure you used the festive period to over-indulge, eat and drink too much and you have all resolved
03 Jan 2015 10:51
Hectic Life Of A Professional Athlete

Happy New Year, to all the readers of the Fiji Sun. I’m sure you used the festive period to over-indulge, eat and drink too much and you have all resolved to eat healthier, exercise more often and generally lead a healthier lifestyle in 2015!

But what is this time of year like for a professional athlete or sports person? We often envy these sports stars for their fame and fortune and the extravagant lifestyle this brings but it does come with some trials and tribulations.

Some sports such as the NRL are in the middle of their pre-season schedule. Whilst you were out finishing off your Christmas shopping, teams in the NRL were coming back for pre-season training. Players were being put through demanding fitness tests, punishing hill climbs and other unpleasant activities dreamed up by the coaches and strength and conditioning staff.

The NRL champions, South Sydney Rabbitohs were taken to the USA where they undertook an intense 18-day high-altitude camp which included long hikes and runs and a 26 kilometre trek up and down the Grand Canyon.

No time for the Rabbitohs to head to Tappoo or MHCC for last-minute gifts but perhaps they were afforded some time to see what they could buy from the local retailers!

Many other sports around the world use the period between Christmas and the New Year to have a break. Soccer players in Spain, Italy, Germany, France are fortunate enough to be able to put their feet up for a mid-season winter break.

From working in professional sports in the UK I have seen many leading sports stars panicking at this time of year, unsure they would be able to reject the temptation of Christmas pudding, the extra roast potatoes and the chocolate that seems to be everywhere during the festive period.

Many clubs are sympathetic to this and allow their players a couple of extra days at Christmas.

These clubs may put strict stipulations on what their players can eat, they may ‘welcome’ their players back with a fitness test to burn off the extra calories and identify who has been sneaking the extra mince pies.

The conundrum for players is that they want to enjoy the festive period with their families and be able to share the same Christmas fare, but at the back of their mind they are thinking they don’t want to lose the competitive advantage and losing that half-a-second of pace could make all the difference in making the starting line-up, scoring the winning try or making that last-ditch tackle to save a goal.

Back in the UK, Christmas is a particularly cruel and gruelling time for professional sportspeople. The demands on players in soccer’s English Premier League are huge with an especially heavy schedule of matches.

There is a full Boxing Day fixture list that ensures none of the players can over-indulge.

Many players play two games in the space of 48 hours! Clubs spare very little thought to their players over this period and the focus is purely commercial and income generation.

The Boxing Day fixtures are traditional and extremely popular with supporters and television audiences.

Their enthusiasm for these matches is not shared by the coaches and the players who every year complain about the hectic schedule and the excessive demands being placed on players.

This may well lead to injuries and the quality of football would certainly diminish with the players so mentally and physically drained.

It would certainly prevent them from enjoying their turkey dinner with all the trimmings!

I hope you enjoyed the festive period but when find yourself reaching for the biscuit tin in 2015, spare a thought for those poor athletes and sports people who can’t indulge in those luxuries.

When you see the sports stars driving around in their expensive cars, take solace in the fact that at least you can say yes to the extra large portions on Christmas Day!



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