Black and white stock photo of a one dollar bill.

Image Credit: Kurtis Garbutt (CC BY 2.0)

Sports fans are often bewildered at many of the stories they read about pro athletes losing their fortunes. It's disgusting that many of the fans in these large cities are living well making $60K-$70K a year while athletes end up squandering millions. So how does it happen? This subject does take some research but the cases are well-documented. There are really too many athletes to cite, and it would make no sense to break down their financial woes on the micro level.

Many of the mistakes professional athletes make are failed business ventures. Former NBA player Derrick Coleman went bankrupt investing money in restoring oppressed areas of Detroit, Michigan. Former NFL Player Rocket Ismail dabbled in cosmetic products, phone-card dispensers, a music label and a restaurant. NFL Player Deuce McAllister invested millions into a car dealership. Where are the financial mentors? Why do players choose to invest all of this money blindly while their playing careers are ongoing. Shouldn't you want to keep a close eye on your investment? Why wouldn't players keep all of their checks in the bank until their careers are over?  They could then buy a home and choose how to invest at their leisure. 

Many professional athletes have child support obligations with women they never had close relationships with. Former NFL running back Travis Henry has fathered nine children by nine different women, some of the children born just months apart. Henry's annual child support payments range anywhere between $150,000-$170,000. Antonio Cromartie of the New York Jets has nine children as well, but with eight different women. Just after the 2009 NFL season ended, Cromartie was advanced $500,00 for outstanding child support payments. Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens has six children by four different women and former NBA star Shawn Kemp has seven children by six separate women. Supporting a family is not easy nor is being a pro athlete. Shouldn't you wait until your career is over to begin starting a family as well?

And finally, it's well documented that pro athletes are excessive spenders. An article in Sports Illustrated once reported that former NBA great Shaquille O'Neal's monthly spending exceeds $875,000 including $17,000 per month on clothing. Excessive? In the same article, former NBA player Kenny Anderson claims to have  had a $10,000 monthly bill he deemed as "hanging out money". I thought hanging out was free? Many of these athletes just downright get taken advantage of due to ignorance, even by longtime friends and family.

You don't hear much about the financial woes of Major League Baseball players. Maybe because they are playing baseball year around, travelling city to city. Even after the season ends, many of them will spend their winters in southern countries. On the contrary, NFL players have one day a week to take care of business and have many nights off to dine out, shop, party. The Robert Allen Stanford incident was an unfortunate case to a handful of professional baseball players.

It is apparent that many athletes need a crash course learning in how to manage money. College athletes have all of their expenses taken care via scholarships and go through college with no experience on managing finances. The idea of paying college athletes is being explored, which is ridiculous. Do NCAA officials plan on paying the same amount of money to women's cross country and tennis players? Somehow I see the Men's college basketball and football players reaping the harvest if it comes to that. Minor league baseball players, on the other hand, sweat out their early twenties in small towns and cities on tiny salaries. By the time they reach the Major Leagues, they have experience in money management and how to spend their money while away from home. But at the end of the day, what you choose to do with your money is your business.


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