Third post in series - Is it different being an older athlete? Let’s talk finances.
Committment to any sport has a financial impact.
Even if you are a marathon runner; which some might think is not as expensive as skiing or buying a skeleton sled and perhaps that is true. That being said, we all have new technology in the shoes, new biomechanics data and increasingly better all-around nutrition and supplement information and maintenance medical. All of these buckets have costs that add up.
All to say, no matter the sport, it can be costly. Gear, supplements, entry fees and travel (luggage fees too) are just a couple of the financial commitments we make all the time.
So how does being an older athlete and finances play or not play so well together?
Let’s start with gear. Most gear is now marketed to “improve performance,” whether right or wrong. An older athlete will not waste time or money working their way up the gear cost chain. Make sense? First, financially we often decide, buy the best to start; but we also do not have time to waste on a potentially inferior product. The more expensive product might wear out faster or require more money to maintain, yet we make that choice. Learning curve be damned! Buy the best, go all in! But wait, what if there is a shared budget?
An older athlete in competitive sports is often married or in a relationship. Money for equipment, hamstring rollers, home weights, muscle creams, and medical physical therapy all cost. This is money that is taken away from other household or family commitments.
A younger athlete may not have this issue. Specifically, they are not the ones making the difficult financial choice to reallocate funds that may impact the family. Parents make the choice and perhaps the most awesome part of this is the child does not have any guilt over the decision or otherwise emotional gyrations to go through.
Consequently, for an older athlete in a marriage with or without children; the financial impact is not insular.
When we spend money on our gear or an extra massage, chiropractic, doctor visits or travel, then we are or can be perceived as taking away from the family. College funds, retirement funds for the family, even family vacation time can be sacrificed.
These are non-trivial choices that in a gritty way do not stop with financial impact; there is also an emotional struggle of selfishness and sometimes resentment from your partner. We also spend time on our given sport that would otherwise be allocated to a partner or the family. Training takes time, but so does research for equipment or the sport in general.
There is also the food issue. Increasingly and even for myself the supplement world is changing fast and nutrition can arguably be one of the best competitive advantages an athlete can have so, “If you are what you eat” then spending money on special food or supplements to maintain muscle is a financial hit to perhaps the food budget. Supplements can easily cost upward of $300 a month that is $3600/year. At the end of the day, as an older athlete making a choice to buy the months’ supply of protein powder or fresh salmon can have ripple effects because we are trading financial priorities and almost always there is a sacrifice by someone or taking from another bucket. Even if you are single your choices are often directly impacting the nest egg of your retirement.
These important financial choices can affect an athlete physiologically and emotionally, and depending on the strength of support at home, performance can be easily impacted.
At the end of the day – there is a measurable financial price to being an older athlete! A younger athlete can skip merrily through the day, in new high tech gear, sucking down all the protein shakes they want, while holding the refrigerator door open and not worrying about the electric bill, the 401K or staying up to wipe down their sled after training (to keep it from rusting) in -10 degrees in the middle of the night, then cook and get the calories back in you and try to make sure the snow is out of the wheel wells before it freezes to your chains delaying your next 6:00 AM training session …… because that is what parents are for.
Anna Prata is an Olympic hopeful Competitive Skeleton Athlete. Otherwise known mainly by her last name of Prata, she is 100% committed and passionate about living every moment of her life and leaving it on the field every day. In her non-athlete time, Prata is a highly successful executive in the niche of corporate turnaround. Both her corporate life and her sports life have similarities of stealth, intensity, and speed in creating value and less time down the ice; while wearing Kevlar to protect from the dangers of companies in distress and from potentially hitting a wall of ice at 90 MPR. Ms. Prata is not a nutritionist, a physical therapist or in any way should her opinions be considered medical, physical or psychological advice.
P/S Prata is 50 Years of age!