Why Athletes Looking For A Career In Media Should Follow Chael Sonnen
Updated: Jul 19
Many athletes aspire to a career in the media post-retirement.
But there are not enough roles in the media for everyone, so as we enter the 2020s, athletes must think outside the box to get noticed a bigger following.
Social media platforms like YouTube can be a great option, as demonstrated by former mixed martial artist Chael Sonnen.
The ex-UFC title challenger and current ESPN media personality is another athlete who has leveraged social media to gain lucrative opportunities outside of the sport. Sonnen had a terrific fighting career that spanned multiple decades, but he’ll be best remembered for his work on the microphone.
The American enjoyed a love-hate relationship with the fans and at his peak was one of the most outspoken and highest drawing fighters on the roster. But people have short memories and after the rise of megastars like Ronda Rousey and Conor McGregor, Sonnen largely became forgotten about by the casual fans in the mid-2010s.
But Sonnen experienced a resurrection back to relevance when he started posting videos on his YouTube channel giving his opinions on fighters, upcoming fights, ‘inside’ stories and issues within the sport. His channel has well over 600,000 subscribers and his videos have received over 250 million views.
Sonnen’s content style proves that you don’t need to spend thousands on expensive equipment. Often he can be seen filming while driving (sometimes with his children in the back), walking down the street, straight after a training session and even while receiving a haircut.
After the emergence of his channel, he was since received opportunities to work as an analyst for ESPN – one of the biggest sports networks in the world. In 2020, he is one of the biggest media personalities in the sport of MMA all because of his understanding of how to leverage social media.
Any athlete approaching the end of their career who are seeking a career in the media should look at Sonnen’s approach for inspiration.