Smith urges athlete entrepreneurship
Former decathlete Maurice Smith recommends that athletes venture into business before retirement.
The 2007 World Championships silver medallist says the experience will pay dividends in the long run.
“In the sporting world as a professional athlete, a lot of things are laid out for you,” he said. “Once you’re competing at the highest level, you have an agent, you have sponsors, things are laid out for you. You can focus on competing because you have other people to take care of booking flights and so on.”
Now 40 years old and forging a career in music, Smith says, “Once you make that transition into the business world and you don’t have all that around you immediately, it’s a worry for you to know how to survive on your own. So I would say, learn things about entrepreneurship a little bit earlier rather than waiting until the transition happens.”
PASSIONS OTHER THAN SPORTS
Using his own move from the decathlon to reggae as a reference point, he continued, “Music has been a passion of mine. A lot of people have passion, and their ability to play sports will take the front seat. I’m sure I’m not the only one who had another passion and sports just took the front seat because you have the ability to do it and it provides opportunities to travel the world, to go to universities without having to pay for it, getting a degree.”
The former Calabar High School and Auburn University alumnus says if you have that passion in something, then start doing things towards bringing out that passion before the transition. But he warned that the business world can be cruel.
“People do take advantage [of you] when they realise you don’t have the knowledge,” Smith said.
In addition to his World silver medal, Smith competed in the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games for Jamaica, won an NCAA indoor decathlon title for Auburn, gold at the 2007 Pan American Games and silver at the 2006 Commonwealth Games.
He and 2002 Commonwealth Games winner Claston Bernard are the only Jamaicans ever to score over 8,000 points, with Smith tallying a record 8,644 points at Osaka 2007. Smith is also the last Jamaican decathlete to beat that threshold, with a silver medal score of 8,214 points at the 2011 Pan American Games.