For those unfamiliar with the term NARP, it is a common phrase, used by student-athletes in both high school and college, meaning Non-Athletic Regular Person. The term carries a certain essence of fear for athletes, who know the inevitably reality of becoming one. Athletes both dream and dread the day when they become a NARP.
The thought of more sleep and a schedule free of countless hours of practice is enticing, but usually never enough to outweigh the feeling of being “special” and part of a team. At some point in your life you will ultimately have to make a choice or be forced to become a NARP. Whatever the reason may be, whether you decide to not continue after high school or decide to discontinue athletics during college, it was surely not an easy decision to make. Now that you have become a NARP, what are you to do?
• Be thankful.
Express a sense of gratitude for the part of your life that led you to this point. That sport taught you discipline, taught you how to be respectful, gave you determination and drive and friendships that are sure to last. That sport gave you the potential for a successful future.
• It’s a start, not an ending.
True, the sport may have ended, but that does not mean your life has. Being a part of your sport was just a building block for your future. There is so much more in store for you and having played a sport just set you ahead of the curve.
• The sport does not define you.
You are more than the sport you left behind. You may feel useless or less than yourself because when people ask who you are, you cannot say, “I’m an athlete.” That is not an excuse: you are who you choose to be. Participating in a sport NEVER defined you. You are defined by your character and values.
• Find your niche.
Now, what are you supposed to do with all this time free of practice? Find what makes you happy and what you enjoy. Join an interesting club, get involved in student government or join a sorority/fraternity. Your options are bountiful. Find what you enjoy and let yourself become engrossed in it like you were with the sport you love.
• Still miss it?
Do you still miss being on that team or participating in that sport? Do not worry: there are options for that too. Consider joining the club version of that sport if it is offered or consider starting a club for it if it is not offered. Joining a club version of your sport offers the opportunity to connect with people who are having the same struggle as you. It can easily help you cope and embrace the fact that your life does not revolve around a sport anymore.