All Articles Tagged "athletes bankruptcy"
An excellent athlete is usually part of a great team: their own. Athletes combat stress and unfamiliar situations by surrounding themselves with helpful, knowledgeable, and creative people. These people range from coaches to fellow athletes, managers to family members, financial advisers to psychologists. An athlete’s team forms a tight network around him. They protect him from disastrous personal relationships, spiraling credit card debt, and unfriendly media attention. Athletes and advisers agree one of the first jumps in sports, from college to pro, can be the hardest.
Hampton Tignor, a recent draft for the Anaheim Angels, was formerly a catcher on the University of Florida baseball team. Tignor says there is a big difference between the structure of college and professional baseball.
“In college, we had a whole team of staffers making sure we got good grades, ate right, and trained right. In pro ball, we have an athletic trainer and we have a strength coach. It’s up to the individual (player) to do the right things,” said Tignor.
Pam Provo, executive vice president of business development of Athlete Advisory Services, works with clients who play on a variety of professional teams. These include the National Football League, the National Hockey League, Major League Baseball, the National Basketball League, and European basketball leagues. Provo says many new athletes trust the wrong people. “(It’s because) they’re on top of the world. They feel invincible,” she said.
Chris Henry, director of player development for the National Football League, agrees. “(Joining a professional team) adds a great deal of pressure. Are you going to say you’re stressed out because you signed a $50 million contract? You’re going to act happy,” said Henry.
Provo says she assists new players by teaching them how to read the Wall Street Journal, explaining the concept of interest, and defining what is bad about having debt. Even with self-education, many players hire personal financial advisors when they go professional. Teams typically do not provide or refer financial advisors to a player unless that athlete is on an extreme downward spiral. Some leagues, such as the National Football League, has player’s associations with a financial education program for athletes and an official training program for financial advisors.
Although athletes typically get bigger salaries as they grow as players, the problem of managing money does not get easier over time. Experienced athletes typically continue to have difficulties tending to their finances. “That’s why we created a (financial planning) program called GAP, an acronym that stands for ‘grow and protect,’” said Provo.
Provo says the term also refers to the gap of time, usually 20 years, between a player’s financial career and the point where they can access their retirement funds. Provo improves her planning program by taking suggestions from her firm’s professional athlete’s advisory board. The board includes current and former players.
Henry also believes athletes can help each other. He says the annual NFL rookie symposium contains a lot of advice from “players, not trainers or doctors.” “We have breakout groups (in which) players talk about things (they’ve) already experienced,” said Henry. “Players learn from each other and solve problems constructively. We try and mix it up to send an overall message. How do you deal with success? How do you deal with injury?”
Henry says the symposium covers almost everything: Twittering during the game, bad investments, friends and family who ask for money, and drug and alcohol abuse. “We do not advise players. Our job is to educate players so they can make the best decision for themselves,” he said.