Players Need to be Fiscally Responsible

You’d think $7.4 million could last many people a lifetime. For former NFL first-round draft pick Keith McCants, it lasted fewer than 15 years.

McCants, a linebacker, signed a $7.4 million contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when they drafted him in 1990. By 1995, due to injuries and poor play, McCants was done with football. He is now broke and lives on a NFL pension check of about $1,000 a month.

 A recent ESPN 30 for 30 documentary, “Broke,” showed that many sports players are fiscally irresponsible. According to a 2009 Sports Illustrated article, 78 percent of NFL players go broke within three years of retirement, and 60 percent of NBA players go broke within five years. That’s just ridiculous, especially because many are earning more than $1 million a year.

There is absolutely no reason a multi-million-dollar contract cannot finance a player for life. Even with the insanely high medical bills that some former players have, that kind of money should last if saved and invested correctly.

Because most high schools and universities do not require students to study personal finance, players continue to go bankrupt. Only 13 states require a personal finance class for graduation according to an Economics and Personal Finance education survey. Finance classes should be mandatory in all states.

Ohio adopted financial literacy requirements in 2010. According to Principal Michael Griffith, Shaker has embedded financial education into Global Studies and the fourth quarter of U.S. History courses. Junior Marc Reis, who took AP U.S. History last year, said he thinks the program “could have been helpful, but nobody really paid attention, so it was not as beneficial as it could have been.”

Griffith said he believes it is extremely important to understand budgets, loans and other personal finance topics to be successful.

Economics teacher Elizabeth Plautz agrees. She thinks all students’ fiscal education needs to start in lower grades and must be comprehensive, so athletes making millions in a short period can make that income last for life. If Plautz had her way, athletes’ millions would last for life.

Not only schools should teach fiscal responsibility. The NFL and NFL Players Association should teach personal finance, too. While fiscal responsibility is taught at the rookie symposium, players don’t always take these lectures seriously. Retirement seems a long way away when you are 22 and suddenly wealthy.

Financial literacy and education must start from the bottom up. There should be mandatory financial security instruction in all 50 states from elementary school through college, so nobody – including those making $7 million — goes broke.

A version of this article appeared in print on 31 October 2012, on page 10 of The Shakerite

Comment using your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL or Hotmail account

comments