Broke professional sports stars are nothing new, but ever wonder why athletes — with their outsize salaries — seem so much more prone to bankruptcy than Average Joes?
The New York Times took a shot at answering that question in a recent “Your Money” column by interviewing Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young:
Steve Young has done pretty well for himself. He laid the groundwork for fiscal sanity by majoring in finance at Brigham Young University, won the most valuable player award after leading the San Francisco 49ers to victory in Super Bowl XXIX and is now a managing director at Huntsman Gay Global Capital, a private equity firm.
So how well did he do with his money when he started his professional career? “I wasn’t ready to deal with it,” he said. “Just take the driving analogy. Very few people would be able to handle going zero to 100. Good luck. It’s a lot, and it’s very fast.”
His advice for rookies is to deliberately slow down, way down, something echoed by the National Football League’s Players Association, their union. “ ‘Give yourself a time out’ is what I tell them,” said Dana Hammonds, the director of player services and development for the association. “Focus on football, and after you go through the season, you’ll have time to figure it all out. There is absolutely no need to get involved in any kind of investments. The only thing they need to do is figure out cash flow in their first couple of years.”
While few of us will ever earn the kind of money that a rising sports star can expect right out of the gate, that same advice holds true for anyone who receives an unexpected windfall, whether it’s a sweet raise or an inheritance. If there’s one lesson that Econ4U tries to pound home, it’s not what you make, but what you keep that matters most.