Once you begin to play sports seriously, you will most likely spend a lot of time at it Between games, practice, and weight training, more time than you think will be spent striving to become a better basketball player. There is a good chance then, that there will be little time for anything else. I want to relay a statistic to you. In 2009, Sports Illustrated did a study of former NFL and NBA basketball players.
What the study showed:
- After only 2 years of retirement, 78% of NFL players were either broke or struggling financially
- Within 5 years of retirement, 60% of NBA players are broke
Source: Toore, Pablo S. How (and Why) Athletes Go Broke,
March 23, 2009. http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1153364
To me, these statistics are staggering. How does a person make millions of dollars over their careers, yet they are broke within 5 years of leaving their sport? How is this even possible?
You want to know why this happens? Because once their careers are over, they have no idea how to manage their money or any idea about what to do outside of their sport. Their minds are so hard-wired for training for their sport that it takes a lot of time and energy to cultivate new areas of expertise. Basically, once their careers are over, they have no idea what to do with themselves. They spent the prime years of their life training to be a world class athlete, yet didn’t realize they have over 40 years left to live once their career is over.
This is why you will hear from everybody you know to “get an education”. And if you have the opportunity to get one, make the most of it. I know lots of basketball players who receive a college scholarship, yet do horrible on their grades or do something stupid, and either get
kicked out of college or drop out on their own. It is hard enough to receive a college scholarship of any kind. But when somebody receives that scholarship and blows it all away? That’s the worst possible thing they can do.
So, basically, make the most of any opportunity that you get. Excel in school, but you can only learn so much from the classes you take. Learn about lots of different subjects, and become an expert in what you are passionate about. Read books, magazines, listen to audio books, and start to cultivate your mind early, because the life cycle of most basketball players ends at age 25. Maybe age 30 if you are really good, and really lucky. However, the life expectancy of a human is 70 years. After 25 years of playing a sport, you will have about 45 years left to live.
You can ask lots of athletes who have played professionally, and they will say they never thought their careers would end. They thought they would be in the NBA for 10 to 15 years, and couldn’t even fathom their career ending.
But the average NBA career is less than 3 years. And a player can get injured at any moment, or be called into the coach’s office and told that they are being released from the team. Unless another team picks that player up, they are without a job. This is the career of a professional basketball player. It is unstable, ever-changing, risky, and short-lived.
My advice: Prepare yourself in all aspects of your life so you don’t become a one-dimensional person.