Should we sympathize with athletes going bankrupt?

The statistics are staggering: by the time NFL players are retired for 2 years, 78% have gone bankrupt or are under financial stress, and within five years of retirement, 60% of NBA players have no money. When Sports news headlines read things like “Astros Will Make Less Combined Than Yankees Pay Injured Star in 2013“, it’s hard to believe that professional athletes are ending up in financial crises in their 30’s and 40’s- some even during their time in the big leagues. In the United States, the median income per capita is $41, 560; in 2009, all players with no experience in the NFL earned at least $310,000. What’s even more pressing than the question of how these athletes are blowing through their money so quickly is: should we really feel bad for them?

If you’re making a salary in the millions, with sponsorship deals most likely on top of that, get a financial advisor. Don’t waste through your money on petty things and make bad investments. Raghib Ismail, former NFL player, said in an article for Sports Illustrated, that he lost several million dollars through “total ignorance.” Former runningback Travis Henry went to jail after he couldn’t pay child support for one of his nine kids- all of whom have different mothers. Does this sort of behavior in the big leagues deserve sympathy, or disgust?

What makes athletes any different from the average American who must support their family and watch their spending habits? It is up to these athletes to watch what they spend and not make bad decisions, especially when it comes to investing. If you’re making a salary in a year you can potentially last off of for the rest of your life, don’t waste it. The answer seems pretty clear.

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