This morning, there was no movie that caught my eye. The History Channel was still in their overnight infomercial mode (who watches those things in the middle of the night?), so I ended up watching Real Sport with Bryant Gumbel on HBO. I had never watched that show before. I was pleasantly surprised at how engaging the stories were. It is kind of a 60 Minutes dedicated to sports related stories. http://www.hbo.com/real-sports-with-bryant-gumbel/index.html
One segment that stuck with me was a report on the number of NFL players who are broke, declare bankruptcy, and are divorced shortly after their careers end:
- By the time they have been retired for two years, 78% of former NFL players have gone bankrupt or are under financial stress because of joblessness or divorce.
- Within five years of retirement, an estimated 60% of former NBA players are broke.
- Numerous retired MLB players have been similarly ruined.http://www.businessinsider.com/10-ways-sports-stars-destroy-their-finances-2009-9#ixzz1C9JcCt3Z
The Real Sports story centered on two players that were being paid $5M a year who can barely make ends meet now. Players think the gravy train will never end and that the huge amounts of money they have is unlimited. They do no believe they could ever spend $5, $10, or even $20M. Apparently, somewhere in the neighborhood of 78% of NFL players do. They buy too many homes and too many cars. They invest their money in shaky and risky ventures that include their own restaurants and night clubs. The players’ associations and leagues warn them but the great majority of the players are extremely self-confident and falsely believe that the domain of their confidence and invincibility is not limited to the playing field. They believe that confidence is all they need to master all aspects of life and financial management. It is a cruel and rude awakening for them and a sobering lesson for the rest of us.
I have long quipped that one of the reasons I believe in God is that I am thoroughly convinced there has to be a divine being with the infinite wisdom NOT to give me unlimited wealth or ridiculously good looks. I am not at all sacrilegious here. I am serious with a humorous twist. I know that if I had had unlimited funds, or say several million dollars, at the ripe age of 18, 20, or even 22, there would have been a very high probability that I would have gone insane and spent it all. I would have had a great time, but I would have spent it all. I know that I was simply not mature enough back then. I am not so sure I am now.
When I think of professional athletes and the humble beginnings most of them have had, I am not surprised to hear stories of them losing it all almost as fast as they earned it. I was shocked at 78% figure cited above. It seems I should be more impressed with the 22% of the athletes that manage their funds to preserve and grow the rewards they have earned.
I want to talk sense into the 78% but as stated on the show this morning... they just don’t listen. I know I wouldn't have at that age.