It’s been discussed before: what does an athlete do after retirement? Some athletes burn through their fortunes faster than they made them. Others continue to amass cash and savings by investing in either themselves or entrepreneurial endeavors.
There is a handful of retired athletes who successfully transition from the field or court to the front office. Portland Timbers’ Jack Jewsbury is the latest to make this move. Jewsbury announced his retirement as a player on September 18th, and just two months later, the Timbers named him its Director of Business Development.
What will this mean for one of the greatest players in Major League Soccer’s history? Let’s take a look:
Business development professionals truly fit into many a box, with a lot of crossover; what a developer will do often depends on the industry and even the organization itself. In its broadest terms, business development is about creating growth opportunities among organizations. It often entails a lot of business-to-business (B2B) marketing and relationship building.
B2B practices integrate a lot of data technology in order to analyze customer and client behavior. This kind of integration can help developers make better business decisions for both the client and the organization.
The skills needed for this type of position don’t necessarily come easily. Business development professionals often train via a combination of business administration education and work experience. Some have enough training to parlay a bachelor’s into an executive position like Jewsbury’s. Others take the extra step to get an MBA; regardless, it’s a position that requires a lot of experience with one’s organization and industry.
Lucky for the Timbers, they picked a great ambassador in Jewsbury. He spent six years with the Timbers and 14 years in the league. He could have taken one of many paths of ex-athletes, but Jewsbury is sticking with Portland.
“I’ve always been interested in the business side of the sport, and I’m excited to begin the next phase of my career,” Jewsbury was quoted as saying in the Timbers’ press release. He has both the experience as a member of the industry and the educational training, holding a business degree from Saint Louis University.
Jewsbury’s specific duties will be project lead for corporate partnerships as well as official ambassador for Stand Together. Stand Together is the Timbers’ and Thorns’ community partnership program. It includes programs such as Science of Soccer and the Stand Together Leadership Academy. One of its biggest programs is Fields for All. Jewsbury and his development team will continue to provide facilities in “recreational deserts” throughout the Portland Metropolitan area.
Jewsbury joins a long line of retired athletes who have joined the front offices of their former clubs or others in their league. John Elway is one of the National Football League’s top execs after decades of being one of its top quarterbacks. There’s a little art, however, to picking the right retired players to help develop business relationships. It’s not just about who can be the perfect face for the team.
Jewsbury appears ready to perform as well in the front offices as he did on the field. If he and the Timbers succeed in this new partnership, they will serve as a great model for other teams in the MLS and other leagues in professional sports.