Broke As A Joke: Why We Shouldn’t Be So Quick To Judge Bankrupt Athletes

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By T. Hall

My Twitter timeline recently exploded over ESPN’s 30 for 30 “Broke” documentary. From what I can gather, the following three things were revealed:  a) many athletes have questionable decision making skills when it comes to selecting baby mamas – ratchets always seem to be their first choice, b) many athletes have even questionable-er (is that a word?) investment skills, and c) people on Twitter will clown you like Bozo while watching your pain on national television.  And while it’s easy to point to someone who is making big bucks and laugh at their inability to keep from blowing it, it’s a lot harder for us to do the same when it comes to keeping our own duckets in check.

I like to think of myself as a pretty normal person. I get up and go to work every day, I pay my taxes, tags and title like a good citizen, I pay my bills (mostly) on time. No checks blown on bottle service at the club, no $500 Jimmy Choos, no extravagant lacefront upkeep. Sure, there’s some student loan debt out there messing up my debt to income ratio, maybe a parking ticket or two in DC, but other than that when it comes to finances I’m pretty run of the mill. Boring even. But it dawned on me the other day, while gorging on yet another Domino’s pan pizza, that when it comes to money matters I may have a lot more in common with a multi-millionaire athlete than I would care to admit.

Let’s take inventory, shall we? While I’ll never make as much as LeBron James, I still make more than the average family of four in America. That’s all well and good, but I also live in one of the most expensive areas in the nation, northern Virginia, so a good chunk of my money goes toward housing. Then there’s the insatiable beast that is Sallie Mae, which must be fed every month, on time, lest my soul be auctioned off to the devil.  All those mandatory costs make me seem a lot like Mike Vick, who has to pay out his most of his $31 million to bill, bills, bills. Still, I recognize that impulse buying is the habit that is laying bare my wallet and the wallets of lots of professional athletes.

My weakness for books means that I will find any way to finance my reading habit, even if it means spending money that could be better used cushioning my nest egg.  And if I stopped eating out four to five times a week I might be a little better off. According to Complex , Eddy Curry spent $72,000 A YEAR on a chef. I may not be that bad, but Chipotle is damn sure eating up my pockets.

The sad part is that even though these purchases are made impulsively, in the long term a consistent check isn’t always guaranteed.  And so, just like the playboy athlete, I’m playing myself.  In this economy my job is not secure.  In that way I am not so different from the young basketball player who doesn’t think his checks will ever stop or the aging footballer whose body can’t seem to support another day on the field.  After my little come-to-Jesus realization and a some Bible reading I’ve come to understand that it’s not how much you make, but what you do with what you have that makes the difference. Living within and below my means is about to become my new way of life, because I don’t want to end up with my pockets turned out like the Monopoly man.  Or as the laughingstock of Twitter.


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