But in all seriousness...
I read an "unusual fact" on Twitter a couple of days ago. It read: "65% of former NBA players & 80% of NFL players go bankrupt after a few years of retirement."
We have officially confirmed that the recession is affecting everybody in the country. We don't need to name the athletes under fire, of course, but you can clearly tell that there are athletes out there that are afraid to retire from the sport out of fear of running out of money.
In today's day and age, we may think of the argument of what I like call "The Old Yeller Complex" which I had talked about on The Sports Nut Blogs last year. In a nutshell, there are arguments such as: if there are athletes that are still healthy and want to play despite their age, they should play; or if older athletes still hang onto the game, it eliminates the chances of younger guys getting in the game and forming their own careers and legacies. In this era, it doesn't matter about how much you love the game and how old you're getting; in this terrible economy, it's either work or wither.
|Our economy. It's beautiful, isn't it?|
Some athletes are fortunate that after retirement they are welcomed back by sports organizations to work in the front offices or in recruitment staff. There are others that are incredibly fortunate and even get a job in broadcasting regardless of how terrible their analyses can be. Not to sound partial, but issues like this totally suck for people like me that just recently got out of college and are looking for a job/additional experience (because God knows some don't have enough for anybody). But in being impartial, these athletes have worked for years and years and received a hefty paycheck. However, when they stop working, they're not getting a viable source of income, and taxes start spanking them around the spanking court. Let's not get into possibilities that there are underground practices, because that could be killer on the bank account too. Anyway, they may get benefits post-retirement, but it might not have the same perks like if you were a military retiree or a big businessman that is stepping down after so many years.
You may also have to configure the psychology on how big of a hit bankruptcy can be on a big athlete post-retirement. Sometimes moving backwards isn't always smiled upon, especially if the money that was spent at the time of "gaming," as I call it, was on cars and condos and what have you. When you see the big drop they take after losing so much money due to taxes and inactivity, you can feel bad for them. That's why they have no choice but to go back and do anything possible. Most of the time, you'll see the lesser known retired people taking broadcasting or front office jobs, and then you'll see the bigger guys take on the endorsements and television deals. Some of it isn't terrible, but it's a dog-eat-dog world, and everyone has a price.
I'll admit, once these guys become professional athletes, they're always gonna have a foot in the door, so if there's any danger of bankruptcy, there's always a way to rebound. It might not seem like it, but they have it pretty well. Too bad they have the two things they can't avoid: death and taxes. For those guys that take their foot out of the door, they can downward spiral into some dangerous stuff. Yaaay, economy! But in some cases, the foot in the door can eliminate the chances for other non-athlete workers to get their chance in the spotlight. If a guy wanted to do analysis for the NBA and has been working hard for nearly ten years to get there, I'd think he'd be pretty angry if he lost it to Charles Barkley. That would be turribul.
For people like us, it isn't fair. However, it also isn't fair that there are guys that have worked their bodies to the point of falling apart just to lose it all once they retire due to national policies. Trust me, I wouldn't really want to see a guy like Curt Schilling working at a Walmart. That would just be awkward. At the same time, it would almost be degrading for him because he was at the top of the world at one point, and stupid stuff happened where he just lost everything he practically earned over the course of 15 years. If I had a ton of savings due to a lavish broadcasting career with some sports news outlet, I'd be pretty mad too if I lost it all in a matter of minutes.
Welcome to the vicious cycle that we call life, sports world! Enjoy the ride through the Tunnel of Rejection and Financial Crapolla!