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What Athletes and Sports Competitors Do

Athletes and sports competitors participate in organized, officiated sports events to entertain spectators.


Athletes and sports competitors typically do the following:

Few people who dream of becoming a paid professional athlete beat the odds and make a full-time living from professional athletics. And when they do, professional athletes often have short careers with little job security. 

When playing a game, athletes and sports competitors must understand the game strategies while obeying the rules and regulations of the sport. The events in which athletes compete include team sports, such as baseball, softball, hockey, and soccer, and individual sports, such as golf, tennis, swimming, and skiing. The level of play varies greatly, where sometimes the best from around the world compete in events broadcast on international television.

Being an athlete involves more than competing in athletic events. Athletes spend many hours each day practicing skills and improving teamwork under the guidance of a coach or a sports instructor. They view videotapes to critique their own performances and techniques and to learn their opponents' tendencies and weaknesses so as to gain a competitive advantage.

Some athletes work regularly with strength trainers to gain muscle and stamina and to prevent injury. Many athletes push their bodies to the limit during both practice and play, so career-ending injury is always a risk; even minor injuries may put a player at risk of replacement.

Because competition at all levels is extremely intense and job security is always in question, many athletes train throughout the year to maintain excellent form and technique and peak physical condition. Very little downtime from the sport exists at the professional level.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition