Everyone knows that being a professional athlete is a great job that comes with a seemingly endless amount of perks for those fortunate enough to find themselves doing a job that many people would give up anything to do for free.
Athletes don’t have to worry about what in their wardrobe qualifies as business-casual attire, as opposed to regular business attire in a confusingly laid-back office. Or traverse the ugly terrain of ever-changing kitchen politics within an office place.
Of course the perks of being a professional athlete extend far beyond never having to deal with daily passive-aggressive notes about crumbs on the counter or the cleanliness of the microwave. They exist in a world where Office Space is a comedy, not a disturbing reality.
Here are 20 cool perks of being a pro athlete.
The money athletes get paid is obviously going to be first. Even though some aren’t paid nearly as much as people often assume, by and large they do a lot better financially than your average person.
That's particularly true for athletes at the top of a given sport. Take Tiger Woods, for example, who according to Forbes made $78 million in the last year—or roughly $214,000 a day.
There’s no question that fame is a double-edged sword that has been known to hurt people as much as help them. That being said, it’s gotta feel good to be aggressively adored by a large group of people.
And there are some athletes who seem to take the same kind of joy from being aggressively hated by an even larger group of people. Whether they love you or hate you, it doesn’t matter. It’s when people become indifferent that it hurts.
Athletes who win championships are usually invited to the White House to meet the president, which has got to be a very cool experience, no matter your political leanings—unless you’re Tim Thomas.
Of course, it doesn’t begin or end there. Athletes have the opportunity to court and befriend an entirely next-level social circle, the likes of which the rest of us can hardly even imagine.
There have been approximately a billion lists and articles devoted to WAGs—athlete wives or girlfriends—over the years. And that’s because athletes have access to a very glorious dating pool that is stocked with gloriously beautiful fish.
If Justin Verlander didn’t play baseball, is there any chance he’d be dating Kate Upton? Nope. Think Marko Jaric would’ve ended up living in wedded bliss with Adriana Lima if he pursued a career in accounting or selling used cars? Absolutely not.
You don’t have to be obsessed with celebrity and addicted to supermarket tabloids to recognize it would be pretty cool to have a couple of celebrity friends. Getting to occasionally experience the world of Jay-Z and Beyonce or Tom Cruise, even by proxy, would be an experience.
Maybe it wouldn’t even be nearly as great an experience as we’d imagine, but getting to tell everyone that it didn’t live up to the hype would be an even better experience! Look at Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson in that photo—even he can’t believe he’s just “chilling” with Jay and Bey.
I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do for a living when I was younger; the only thing I knew I wanted was a job that included a lot of travel. I later learned that business travel isn’t quite as glamorous or fun as it seems, but it’s still better than being in your office.
For professional athletes, traveling is a huge part of the job. They travel for road games, international competitions, All-Star Games, personal appearances and various other professional events. And like a hotshot CEO with an expense account or crooked five-term politician, they never have to worry about a bill.
This one is really all encompassing, given the plethora of opportunities that come along with being a professional athlete. It includes but is not limited to:
- Being immortalized as a toy or bobblehead
- Cameo parts in television shows and movies
- Getting to make a rap album or any other album
- Meeting the Queen of England
- Having a street named after you
- Starring in a reality show
- Being forever immortalized as a bad tattoo
Being a professional athlete can be a physically grueling and exhausting experience, especially as they creep into their 30s. Thankfully they have a lot of time to recover during the offseason.
Though offseason training activities and exhibition play counts as something, it doesn’t change the fact that athletes in most sports have between four and eight months in between regular-season competitive play.
These days most entry-level jobs start with 10 vacation days per year—14 if you're lucky.
One of the great trivial injustices in the world is that the people with the most money are also given the most free stuff. It simply defies logic and all sense of what’s fair and right.
But that’s just the world in which we live. Athletes get free admission, free Beats, free food and drink, and those with sponsorship deals get free shoes and clothes in bulk.
There are some people who have been on Twitter, tweeting regularly, for five or more years that have less than 50 followers. Some of them have even less than 10. Although, if you have less than 10 followers over that span of time, there’s probably a reason.
Athletes don’t have to worry about that kind of thing on Twitter or any other social media platform. It doesn’t matter how stupid or inane or just plain ridiculous what they post is, being a professional athletes means a built-in audience for whatever and whenever you want.
Athletes are more likely to suffer serious physical injuries in their line of work than the vast majority of us. They are financially compensated for the risk and have access to top-notch medical care. Well…at least while they’re playing.
Although athletes are very well taken care of medically while their health is seen as a financially beneficial investment for their employers, the recent revelations regarding CTE in the NFL is a stark reminder of how fleeting the concern in the health of an athlete can be.
In the real world being an eccentric, borderline-crazy spectacle isn’t something that tends to benefit most people. In fact, it’s usually a very serious detriment to one’s personal and professional success.
It’s a completely different story for professional athletes, who are often rewarded for such behavior.
Take middling Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Brian Wilson, for example, who is rewarded both financially for being whatever it is he’s being but also with the excessive attention lavished on him for being it.
Athletes make plenty of money just doing their jobs, but there are some who make even more money by taking advantage of the plethora of other opportunities that are only afforded to those doing the same job.
Endorsements are a big deal for athletes, with many banking millions for various deals. Some of the most notable athletes ink deals worth into the tens of millions per year, with a very elite few bringing in over $50 million.
While the number of sick days an athlete can take over a given time may be limited for some, there are others with guaranteed contracts that can spend entire seasons on the bench without missing so much as a single paycheck.
This is especially true in the NBA. Basketball is a surprisingly physical game for being played with no protection, and basketball players are big, physical men. Although catastrophic injuries are very rare, serious and chronic injuries are the norm.
Derrick Rose, Amar’e Stoudemire, Rajon Rondo, Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum and Dwyane Wade are just a few NBA players who have missed excessive playing time in recent years. All get paid just the same to sit on the bench in a suit.
For us regular adult folks, having a personal professional nemesis may be entertaining on some level for some period of time, but after awhile it starts to become sad—particularly to those on the outside looking in.
Athletes don’t have to worry about that. Making a living as a professional competitor—not just in a competitive field, but in actual competition—makes having a nemesis both normal and natural.
Getting to do something amazing like play sports for a living is a dream that many people have as a kid, but precious few are lucky (or talented) enough to ever have the opportunity to experience.
Perhaps because it’s a childhood dream, there are many athletes who have absolutely no interest in growing up. There’s no better example of this than the Gronkowski brothers, who epitomize this "frat boy meets Peter Pan" mentality.
To get in shape or to not get in shape.
To get a gym membership or to not get a gym membership.
To actually go to the gym or to not actually go to the gym.
To cancel a gym membership or to not cancel the membership.
These are the kinds of struggles we deal with every day with regard to our health and level of physical fitness. Most athletes don’t have to worry about this kind of nonsense. They’re paid to stay in shape and have access to workout facilities on the regular.
How many times have you wished you had a personal assistant, an intern or even an easily persuaded identical twin to send out into the world to do your dirty work? If you’re anything like me, that thought probably enters your mind several times every day.
Athletes have the kind of money and number of desperate hangers-on in their lives to really make that dream a reality. Boxer Floyd Mayweather has an entourage so massive that the dude charged with laundering his gold-plated draws probably makes six figures.
Then there’s juiced-up former MLB slugger Jose Canseco, who has been known to send out his twin brother Ozzie to take his place at less-than-desirable appearances.
They say that everyone is created equal and that justice is blind, both of which are nice in theory. The only problem is that people aren’t all treated as equals, and justice often isn’t blind but rather for sale to the highest bidder.
Athletes and celebrities are subjected to a completely different legal system than the general public. They can afford the best lawyers, receive preferential treatment by police and prosecutors and are rewarded with the benefit of the doubt by fans.
Though there are plenty of athletes with little to no interest in charitable endeavors, there is a tremendous opportunity to give back in a very big way for those who are. They say a little bit can go a long way, but this is especially true when it comes to charity.
You or I could volunteer at a homeless shelter or donate what we can afford to the charity of our choice, but the overall impact of those individual efforts pales in comparison to what an athlete can provide simply by showing up.
An athlete visiting with sick children at a hospital or participating in a toy giveaway at Christmas can create lifelong memories in the lives of those involved. Then there are athletes who use their fame to really make waves, like Steve Gleason with ALS and Boomer Esiason with cystic fibrosis.