What’s Life Like as a Pro Athlete Freelancer?
When most people think of pro athletes, they tend to imagine mammoth contracts that span several years, such as the ones seen in the NFL or the NBA. However, for a large number of players this simply is not the case, with many of them working on something of a freelance basis.
That’s right, there are top sports stars out there who live the freelance lifestyle, being as free as birds to work as many jobs as they like and manage their time how they see fit. Here are just a few of them, as well as the challenges their work lifestyle brings.
Canelo will be a very rich man when he eventually decides to hang up his gloves, and part of the reason why is his ability to work on a freelance basis
Saul “Canelo” Alvarez
There is currently no bigger star in boxing than the Mexican fighter Saul “Canelo” Alvarez who, since losing to the great Floyd Mayweather, has gone on to establish himself as the undisputed, pound-for-pound number 1.
Such is his dominance in the ring that he has been able to yoyo up and down the weight divisions, winning world titles wherever he pleases and with his odds rarely slipping to anything other than him being an odds-on favorite. Normally, fighters as popular as this are tied down to a certain promoter or television network, having signed up to a lucrative long-term deal. This usually lets online sports bettors know which fights are on the horizon because fighters tend to only do battle against other fighters from their promoter’s stable.
Not so with Alvarez, who has made the bold decision to work freelance and therefore leave himself open to pick and choose who he fights and in which odds lines he appears. This was evident in his recent move from DAZN – where he beat Billy Joe Saunders – to Showtime, where he became undisputed Super Middleweight champion against Caleb Plant. He is now back with DAZN for two fights, with the Mexican’s fans already making the most of online free bets to back their man with DraftKings Sportsbook to beat the WBA Light Heavyweight champion, Dmitry Bivol. As long as Canelo keeps delivering for the bettors and fans who back him to the hilt, he will continue to be able to profit from being boxing’s freelance lone ranger.
Being an NFL free agent can be a frustrating and stressful affair
NFL Free Agents Scrap for Gridiron Crumbs
Of course, being a successful free agent in any sport is all about being wildly successful in the first place, so that television networks and sponsorship deals come running to you, rather than the other way around. At the other end of the spectrum things are a little different, with players coming towards the end of their professional careers often being cast adrift.
Such is the case in the NFL where, once a player is jettisoned into the realms of free agency, it can be incredibly difficult for them to get back to the upper echelons of the sport. That said, most NFL franchises simply would not be able to function without players they pick up on the cheap from the free agency scrap heap, with many NFL rosters having special teams that are almost entirely made up of free agency players.
There are some free agents who manage to get the system to work in their favor, especially if they play in a position that is short on talent across the league. Such was the case for the likes of Joe Thuney and Shaquil Barrett, who both received bumper free agency deals in 2021 from the Chiefs and the Bucs respectively.
In many Olympic sports it is every athlete’s goal to make it into their national team setup, so they can benefit from the funding, coaching, and prestige that comes with such a position. But there are a small number of athletes throughout history who have shunned their national team, choosing instead to go freelance. One great example of this was American downhill skier Bode Miller, who renounced his US Team membership and travelled to and from European races in his campervan instead.