Andrew Dykstra says most pro athletes don't live glamorously.

By Andrew Dykstra

Please don’t believe that every athlete has it made.

You see the Wayne Rooneys, the Thierry Henrys and the Messis. To put it into an American context, the Jordans, the Bradys, the Gretzkys (last one was for the Canadians). You see these players and you think most athletes have money like they do, find opportunity like they do and live the life they do. Let me tell you, these guys are the “under-5%”. The rest of us have a tough going. There is still maybe another small percentage that gets along easier (“silver spoon effect”), but the majority of athletes work, struggle, train, fight, get let down, stand up, are usually let down again, and have to look in the mirror at every corner turned to analyze themselves and to find the motivation to keep fighting. Often, not only for themselves, but for their children and their family.

Let me also say, it’s not always about ability either. Sport is a business, and often times a cruel, unsympathetic business. Right now I’m in Scotland, where I’ve been training with teams for weeks. I have been impressing team after team with pats on the back the entire way. Three weeks into this I have nothing to show for it; no income, just the conjured motivation to keep pressing on. I have sacrificed Christmas, New Years and my own birthday to be here.

I was turned down by a small club in Glasgow because they could not pay well enough. I was given a shot in the Scottish Premier League (SPL), but the club’s owner is selling the team and refusing to pay its players. Naturally I turned them down. In a small town (to also be left nameless) north of Edinburgh, again in the SPL, I was actually promised a contract with a set price and starting spot. The day I was to be signed, the team had gone, without my (or my agent’s) knowledge, to sign a loaned player in order to save money. I got a handshake.

Don’t get me wrong, please. I’m not looking for sympathy, and I don’t want handouts by anyone or any club. I just want you to know that it’s not always that easy. The sports world is unforgiving, and to do what the majority have to endure requires some long looks in the mirror to search ourselves and find ways to keep moving forward.

I am still in the UK. I have an offer back home (can’t mention the club yet), but I am here; using my own money, seeking motivation where-ever I can find it, to keep doing what I love.

Andrew Dykstra was a four-year starter in goal for the VCU Men’s Soccer Team from 2005-08. He spent two seasons with the Chicago Fire of Major League Soccer and played the 2011 season with the Charleston Battery of the USL. He is continuing his professional career abroad.

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