It’s not a typical phrase in Australia but the student athlete is a common trope in American high school parlance. While there aren’t necessarily quarterbacks wearing letterman jackets strolling through the locker bays of Australian schools, there are definitely students who put far more time and effort into what happens outside of the classroom.

This can be a frustrating situation for teachers, particularly when they see, for example, a Year 10 footballer run to the point of exhaustion to score 14 on the beep test but barely turn a page of their textbook. Often, these students will say they simply don’t like school and consider themselves more hands-on yet fail to recognise that choosing a more vocational career path, such as a trade, requires considerable hard work and effort.

One way to engage with the sports-inclined is to identify the booming health and fitness industry at the moment. Quite frankly, there has never been a better and more exciting time to get into this sector. The societal shift towards wellness in the workplace has seen an explosion of job opportunities in fields like nutrition, dietetics, sports science, exercise physiology and personal training. Social media has been a massive contributor, which is relevant given this is where teenagers spend a great deal of their time. Sporting clubs are reaping the benefits of hiring quality candidates to operate their social accounts, giving fans a whole new perspective with behind-the-scenes footage of their favourite players.

The point of this spiel is that the potential to work in sport is not limited to professional athletes or coaches. The future of journalism is constantly queried yet there are more than 2000 accredited media professionals covering the AFL, and with the AFLW continuing to expand, we can assume this number will only grow. Sports competitions need administrators, business managers and accountants, and in 2018, marketing, advertising and social media roles are as institutionalised into sporting clubs as physiotherapists, trainers and nutritionists. Niche positions such as wellness officers are becoming more common too; just ask Trent Cotchin and Dustin Martin. The premiership captain and reigning Brownlow Medallist both credit much of Richmond’s 2017 flag to the work of mind coach Emma Murray.

If you’re struggling to get through to a student who thinks the world revolves around sport, it might be worth nudging them in the direction of a career that, if they are willing to put in the work, they can be truly passionate about.

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