Why Do Black Athletes Seem to Go Broke?
(ThyBlackMan.com) I am participating with MSN in a project called “The Invested Life.” The program represents the launch of a series of web-based episodes that teach the fundamentals of investing to regular, everyday people. I’ve worked on the show for months, and I’ll be engaged in the project for the rest of the year. It’s been an interesting jump into the world of film making, with scripts, production schedules and all that good stuff. I’ve gained a newfound respect for how hard real actors and actresses actually have to work.
A guest on the show is a man named Winfred. Winfred is a former NFL athlete who found himself done with sports and trying to make sure that his wealth lasted until retirement. He made an interesting point that for many athletes, the challenge of retiring young with virtually no skill set can be a one way ticket to the poor house. As a man who is concerned about the plight of the black athlete, I constantly see men who’ve traded away their entire educational future in exchange for a very short and meaningless life of glamor in professional sports.
Winfred said that once he became a professional athlete and had more money than he’d ever had in his life, he was overwhelmed. Like most young people, he admits that he wasted a lot of money, spending it on things that don’t keep their value. What’s worse, Winfred had a financial manager who was churning his stocks (buying and selling constantly) to earn money for himself. Some fund managers make money if you are buying and selling, not if you are actually getting a good return on your investments. Many black athletes are unaware that they are being ripped off because they don’t have the educational background to understand what is happening to them.
One of the things I liked about Winfred’s approach to managing his financial situation is that rather than simply finding an investment advisor he could trust, he went after one who could teach him about his money. By being empowered enough to know how to manage his own money, he didn’t have to worry about anyone stealing from him. All black athletes should take the same approach, because there is no one who will have your back like you have your own.
The bottom line here is that whether or not you want to be a professional athlete has little to do with your decision to be educated. If you are not educated, someone is simply going to milk you like a financial cow and take away the rewards you’ve earned from all of your jump shots, bench presses and long days at practice. Black athletes possess the discipline, focus, and work ethic necessary to be the best in the world on the field, and we should also put forth the same degree of effort to be the best in the world off the field.
I enjoyed working with Winfred on “The Invested Life.” He reminds us that black athletes don’t have to be stupid, and they sure as heck don’t have to be broke. In a world designed for our demise, black men must always be on point.
Written By Dr. Boyce Watkins