Why Do So Many Athletes End Up Going Broke?

Warren Sapp is one of many athletes forced to file for bankruptcy after his playing days were over.

I can’t even begin to fathom how anyone can manage to blow threw millions. You hear about it all the time. From celebrities, to lottery jackpot winners – some people have a tough time managing immense amounts of wealth. According to research done by Sports Illustrated, 78 percent of NFL players files for bankruptcy within fives years of leaving the game. That’s insane. National Football Post’s Jack Bechta gave a list of Ten Reasons NFL Players Go Broke. He’s a former agent who has represented many players, so his opinion holds a lot of weight. Here are a few highlights:

It comes too easy and too fast: First it’s a college scholarship, cash from uncles during college, advances and stipends from agents and financial advisors. A large signing bonus before the first snap in camp and making a team. When money comes fast and easy for a young man the assumption is life will always be that way. Players can easily develop a false sense of value of themselves. Many think that starting a profitable business or landing a high paying six-figure cushy job will be easy after football. Why not, everything else came easy right? Wrong! Players have a rude awaking when they can’t even land a coaching job after their career ends and don’t properly prepare for starting a second career.

The cost of vanity: I tell my friends that if I opened a specialized rim shop serving pro athletes, instead of being an agent, I would be a rich man. The same goes for custom jewelry. Unfortunately, I noticed that many athletes associate wealth with material possession. So they feel like the more they have, the richer they are. I would say 90% of all athletes are getting ripped off on auto and jewelry purchases. I had one client have a watch appraised that he thought was worth over the $20,000 that he paid for it. The appraiser valued it at $1,500. The diamonds he thought he had on the watch weren’t real. I did it to teach him a lesson. The obsession to have the latest and greatest toys, the biggest house, the newest car(s) and most expensive clothes is probably the number one wealth killer for professional athletes. As I always say, “rich people have things, wealthy people have investments”.

Divorce: 50% gone! When a player retires he goes from having a structured environment (which he has had his whole life), status, fame and a steady income, to trying to figure out how to add value to the household that worked around him and his routine for the last several years. He will struggle with developing a role in his own family, the workplace and society. A lot of athletes get depressed and a near majority of them hideout in a bottle and/or on the golf course. No longer the breadwinner, many wives of NFL players have told me they feel like their husband is another child they have to take care of. Many of these situations end in divorces with no prenuptial in place.

Living above their means: I constantly remind my players that their peers are the people that they graduated college with not the guys in the locker room. Any amount of monies made above your peers should be saved, invested and allocated for future needs. It’s okay to live in apartment for three years before buying a house and two cars. However, the locker room becomes the peer group and once many athletes taste the sweet life it’s difficult to go backwards.

Seeing as how I come from meager means, it’s easy for me to sit back and harshly judge those who have managed to blow their fortunes. Again, I can’t imagine what it would be like scraping the dirt for dollars to having a bank account showing multiple commas. Hopefully, one day I’ll amass a fortune that I can blow through. Then, I’ll write a book about my life and times (props to Mr Sapp!)

NFPost – Ten Reasons NFL Players Go Broke ‡ Outside Online – Why Do So Many Professional Athletes Go Broke?


One thought on “Why Do So Many Athletes End Up Going Broke?

  1. Pingback: Mandatory Mental Health Evaluations For Retirees? |

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