Recently, we came across a LinkedIn conversation about “why athletes go broke” or “what’s the root of the problem with athlete’s going broke”, something along those lines. I decided to chime in on this conversation for a few different reasons. The first being that this is what Beyond the Whistle hopes to combat in the grand scheme of things—helping to make young athletes aware of the pitfalls of being a pro and how to better manage their new found fame and fortune.
The next reason was that not many people considered the backgrounds or socioeconomic status of many of the professional athletes in question. When I say background, I am speaking of financial, upbringing, family structure, availability of resources, and so on.
Let’s be honest: There are Tons of Issues That Go on behind the Scenes and in the Public Eye with Professional Athletes. Their financial decisions tend to get a large microscope over them because we are in an age where the slightest piece of information about someone can be found by clicking a few buttons. What I took from this conversation is that many people the excessive spending as a lifestyle choices that people make once they have been thrust into fame, stardom, and tons of money. The way I see it, I am not sure we could expect much more than that if you hand someone a life that they have no way of being prepared for, given their “background”, for lack of a better word.
It’s like giving a teenager the key to a brand new sports car and sending him down a highway with speed traps every 10 miles. Even though you tell him these pitfalls are there, his natural instinct would be to FLOOR IT!
Beyond The Whistle’s approach is centered on helping kids to see the big picture while they are young enough to be molded into something exceptional, regardless of their “background”. Every child is not afforded the same opportunities and somewhere along the way there has to be a special something, or someone, that shows them that their special talent can be used for so much more. They can be so much bigger if they had a lifelong initiative rather than a dream that can be limited by the constraints of age, health, and at times mental hiccups. A few of my favorite examples being Larry Fitzgerald, John Wall, and Warrick Dunn (Go Noles!). None of their lives were perfect by any means, but through adversity, strife, pain, and suffering, they were not only able to become successful pros, but are setting themselves up to be successful long after the final whistle blows.
I chose these three as examples in my era of being a sports fan. Dunn, having moved on into his post-career successfully as a business man and entrepreneur. Fitzgerald, has already established himself as an entrepreneur and philanthropist while in the prime of his career, and who’s opportunities in or out of sports are limitless. Lastly, Wall—who is looked to as the future of his sport—is setting himself to be a go personality on all fronts. There are so many others who can be acknowledged here.
The reality is, many athletes come from what the media likes to call ‘humble Beginnings’. There have been great examples before them, and we hope to be a part of creating many, many more in the future.