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 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.