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Education for Athletes is Still the Key to Financial Security

If you don’t think education for athletes is important, it’s probably time you start paying attention. Sports Illustrated has reported that 78% of former NFL players are bankrupt or near-bankrupt within two years of retirement. In the NBA, that number is 60% within the first five years out of the league. These statistics are disturbing, given the fact that these athletes acquire millions upon millions of dollars during the span of their careers.

What causes this problem to appear? Many say these financial down falls stem from “Freeloaders,” or “Spongers,” who masquerade as friends or caring family to collect on the benefits of these athletes’ fortunes. Others would point out the lavish lifestyles these professionals lead, is too hard to maintain and far from a realistic understanding of their monetary worth.

Education for AthletesEducation for Athletes is Always Essential:

I will stick my neck out and say it probably has more to do with the lack of a full college education. Education is often overlooked by professional athletes, once they have made it to their desired sports league. This is a major mistake and concern because many professional athletes have no funds or career options to fall back on. Without a college degree, higher education, or in some instances even a high school diploma; there are few options to take in the world outside of sports.

Well established athletes like Shaquille O’Neal and Ray Lewis have gone back to receive their college degrees, despite their incredible success in their respected athletic professions.

One side of the argument says that college athletics and the educational institutions are lacking when it comes to teaching. And the actual skills that are needed for the student athlete to succeed in endeavors after they have completed their professional careers aren’t there.

A staggering number of athletes that have gone bankrupt, don’t have a full four year degree despite the fact that most of them went to school on a full scholarship. Handing several millions of dollars to an uneducated 19-year old with a lack of money management skills, is equivalent of putting on the brakes suddenly while driving up hill. There is a large track record of athletes even bypassing college altogether to go pro.

The NBA has made attempts at stopping this in recent years by changing their draft eligibility rules, requiring athletes to be 19 years of age and at least one year removed from high school. However, some players like Brandon Jennings have found a loop hole and avoided college by going overseas for a year and then entering the draft.

The world of professional sports contrary to belief is not always glamorous. The play on the field is comparable to play off the field. The millions of dollars go up in smoke and many athletes are left broke.

Ways Education for Athletes Can Help Him or Her Not go Broke:

  • Bad investments, uncontrollable spending, family matters, and jail are just a few of the reasons athletes like Evander Holyfield, Mike Tyson, Michael Vick and hundreds of other athletes go bankrupt.
  • Many of the biggest stars in professional sports come from nothing. Once these athletes earn a lot of money, their family and friends rely on them for financial support.
  • The athletes often feel the pressure to help out their loved ones, and don’t understand how much money they are actually giving away.
  • Many athletes don’t get their big paydays until the latter part of their careers, but others are given big paychecks as soon as they enter the league.

The average career span for professional basketball, football, and baseball is a mere 4.5 years, 3.2 years, and under five years, respectively. The financial rise and fall of professional athletes is one of those perplexing things that the other 99 percent just can’t understand: How can anyone blow through at least several hundred thousand dollars, and perhaps tens of millions of dollars, in a few years? Yet many pro athletes have done just that. You could compile an all-star team of players who wound up bankrupt or in financial distress.

I don’t know what it is at work here. Is it the fact that they’re so capable of such incredible physical efforts, that they feel they are that extraordinary?

This is what I believe hits these guys the hardest, is their own mortality, the idea that they are going to get older; they are going to get injured. They make the most money they’re ever going to make in their life in their 20s, and then it’s over. There’s no income unless they have prepared themselves for a life and career after the game. Education for athletes is still key to a player’s financial success.

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7 Responses to Education for Athletes is Still the Key to Financial Security

  1. Jake D July 16, 2013 at 10:54 am #

    I have been trying to tell people this for years! Matthew, very very good article! I thank you for bringing this up!

  2. Allison July 16, 2013 at 12:47 pm #

    This is an issue that needs more attention. Thanks for the info! Great article from an awesome writer!

  3. James Maddox July 16, 2013 at 3:05 pm #

    First of all, great article…and go Cards (I, like you, am from Louisville!)

    Second of all I’m going to play devil’s advocate and say that education is not the key to financial security; it’s surrounding yourself with the right people. Many professional athletes came from nothing and, naturally, will spend their millions of dollars like so. But the key is surrounding yourself with people smarter than you that you can trust with your money. There will be pros that graduate from college and still flush their financial security down the toilet. On the other hand there will be pros that don’t attend college that will manage their money responsibly.

    With that said I wish more stayed and received an education rather than jumping to the pros so fast but I do understand college players make personal, family related decisions and that college isn’t for everyone.

  4. Vincent July 16, 2013 at 3:43 pm #

    These problematic psychological and socioeconomic factors can all be combated by a proper and timely education as long as an athlete is willing to learn and adopt the right mentality and habits, and has the necessary support framework in place.

  5. Mark July 16, 2013 at 9:20 pm #

    Athletes see prominent people spending money, and they believe that their spending pattern should be the same. However, athletes fail to take into account that those prominent members have spent a lifetime learning about financial responsibility and budget strategies.

  6. Jason July 17, 2013 at 11:45 am #

    That’s why you take accounting courses in college and have someone you TRUST handle your money. If you don’t have anyone to trust, then the first year after you play, you use your down time to learn the basics of investment and you TRUST YOURSELF. (Actually I suggest everyone manage their own money.)

  7. Javon July 17, 2013 at 6:20 pm #

    Sports stars may or may not mess up more often than the average person who earns a lot of money really fast, but their troubles seem outsize because of their fame and the pathetic schemes they fall for. The stakes are high for football players in particular, since their average professional career lasts just four seasons or so and may leave lingering injuries and the health costs or physical limitations that come with them.

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