The Business of Ball with Joseph James Francis

The Epidemic of the Broke Athlete

By: Joseph James Francis

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The ESPN 30 for 30 documentaries “Broke,” delved into the world of sports finance. Star athletes fresh off lucrative careers were going bankrupt at alarming rates. It is troubling to see young physically gifted people having nothing to show for a lifetime of dedication to a sport. I think it is important to consider why this happens and search to find solutions. In my opinion, there are positives and negatives of making such large amounts of money at such a young age. Obviously, wealth is a good thing. It allows for the advancement of whole families and uplifts communities. At the same time, it breeds contempt and attracts seedy individuals. Today, I will discuss my reasons for why many star athletes retire without any money. I think to solve the problem we have to fully address the issue. Let’s get started.

1) Lack of education is crucial

It is not only the case for star athletes, but for society as a whole that we do not receive the proper financial education during our schooling years. During the important years that occur when one is in high school, it would be very beneficial that we all receive proper financial education. Simple things like opening a bank account, how interest works, what are mortgages, and why insurance is important would go a long way to invigorate young minds. Athletes have it even worse, with most of their education being missed due to practice, tournaments and games. I believe that financial education should start as early as possible and this is especially true for young athletes.

2) The leagues should step up with personal interaction training

Often it is the person or people most close to the athletes that ruin them financially. Devils come dressed in nice suits and promise the world to young athletes. Agents, lawyers and advisors all promise the ability to help these young stars get to the next level financially. Really, they just bombard them with fees and expenses and some even outright steal from them. It is important for the league to teach these young stars about the dangers of the people you should be able to trust. Without this type of education, many more athletes will get burned.

3) The party lifestyle will destroy you

Many young people fall into the party lifestyle and it has a huge, damaging effect on them. When you are young and rich it becomes even more difficult to navigate through the web of bad decisions. Fast cars, alcohol, drugs and women often destroy an athletes bank account. Not only that, the health consequences can be great. I think the league should step in to make sure their investment is doing the right things and not falling victim to this type of behavior. I am all for free will, but helping even a little would sway some young stars to the brighter path.

While I am all for people making their own choices, I do believe it is in the best interest of professional sports leagues to make sure their athletes are equipped to survive their financial futures. The lure of fast money can literally kill some and ruin many others. The lessons of the past should be a great service to those who are up and coming. If those lessons aren’t heeded we may have some far more serious issues down the road.

Joseph James Francis is a Financial Advisor, Money Coach, and Blogger. He can be reached at:

Website -

Email -

Facebook - @joebudgetboss

Instagram - @joebudgetboss

Twitter @joebudgetboss

LinkedIn - Joseph James Francis