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Why do athletes go #Broke?

ESPN’s 30 for 30 presented a show (Broke) that highlighted many high profile athletes that go broke after making millions of dollars. This is not a new thing, but it is still a growing epidemic, and I was surprised to see so many athletes willing to talk about their financial downfalls. Most guys, especially African Americans, grow up with nothing and become overnight millionaires and don’t know what to do with the money. With teammates setting bad examples of what to do with your money (flashy cars and clothes) it almost becomes a competition to show off your money for these athletes. And then, before you know it, you are BROKE!

This is a quote from ESPN: “According to a 2009 Sports Illustrated article, 60 percent of former NBA players are broke within five years of retirement. By the time they have been retired for two years, 78% of former NFL players have gone bankrupt or are under financial stress.”

In the show last night, some guys explained how they lost their money. Some invested in bad investment deals (like buying huge tomatoes???). Others spent too much money buying bottles in clubs. Then you have the guys who have to take care of their people, and the money really adds up because everyone is asking the superstar for a favor. Oh and don’t forget about Uncle Sam, because out of that million dollar contract, they only really see 500,000. Herm Edwards said it best “You got champagne taste, but beer money and that aint good.” The most surprising of all of the ways they lose money is that they got taken advantage of by their financial advisors who stole money from them.

The lesson learned is to always be in control of your own money and don’t give people you don’t know access to your finances. Don’t buy frivolous things that you don’t need. Just get one car, one house, one piece of jewelry, don’t just try to ball out, that pointless and you will fit right into this category. I like to think of it as have the mindset of a middle class American and you wouldn’t have to worry about where all your money has gone. The majority of the people who lose their money are African American (because of our materialist views and sometimes poor backgrounds) but there are also white athletes who have gone through the same thing. Just be smart!

You know white people get money don’t spend it. Or maybe they get money, buy a business. I rather buy 80 gold chains and go ig’nant. I know Spike Lee gon kill me but let me finish. Blame it on the pigment, we living no limits. Them gold master p ceilings was just a figment of our imagination, MTV cribs Now I’m looking at a crib right next to where TC (Tom Cruise) lives

Yea those are lyrics from Kanye West’s latest single “Clique” and this is what most black athletes are influenced by. Pop culture does not make this issue easier around them because athletes want to be rappers and rappers want to be athletes and they send the wrong messages to one another.

I am amazed how you can have hundreds of millions of dollars and then 5 years later be broke. And yet, I can’t really blame a lot of athletes because they have never had anything or never really got the guidance on how to take care of their money. That’s why it is important for athletes to go through some kind of financial and lifestyle class to prepare them for what’s ahead in life. The show said they have rookie symposiums that half the players fall asleep in, maybe they need to bring those broke athletes in there or some people who actually stole from an athlete to show them how easy it is to lose all your money.

Then again, it comes down to the person you are. For me, I know if I had made it to the NFL and got a big contract, I would be set for life because I would save and I am cheap at heart. I wouldn’t buy gaudy things just because. I would be smart with my money! But, I’m not trying to come off as perfect because I’m sure a lot of people say that. You never know until that money is in your hands.

Now that they have shown the negative side, maybe they should show the positive side of how to maintain your money throughout your whole life. There are plenty of success stories of athletes obtaining “wealth”, not just being rich, and that should be every athletes ultimate goal. If you are wealthy, you are able continue to make and have money well after you are done with your sport. So I expect the next 30 for 30 to show these athletes how to hold on to their money.

Former University of Minnesota and NFL player (and a friend of mine) Jack Brewer was very passionate about this issue and wrote an article for CNBC last year about it. Please check is out here

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