What The “Professional Athlete Salary Lottery” Can Teach You About Money | Ted McLyman dot Com

What The “Professional Athlete Salary Lottery” Can Teach You About Money


Is this your plan to get the kids through college, buy a new house, and pay off some bills?

We Americans love our sports and our sports heroes. Just look at what we pay them.

Unfortunately, professional athlete salaries look more like a lottery than a “job.” And the odds of winning a lottery might be better than cashing in as a pro athlete.

The list of bankrupt athletes is long – too long. Notables include: Dorothy Hamill, Lenny Dykstra, Mike Tyson, John Daly, Lawrence Taylor, Allen Iverson, Marion Jones, Curt Shilling, and hundreds more. According to Sports Illustrated, in 2009 close to 78 percent of NFL players were bankrupt or in serious financial trouble within  two years of finishing their careers.

You don’t have to be a sports fan to know that something seems very broken here. These folks have made, and lost, millions of dollars. Why?

It just might be because their dominant feeling brains just aren’t all that good with money. This is a complex subject. However, consider this:

  • Athletes are generally young and sometimes not fully developed cognitively. Would you give your teenager or youthful twenty-something your car, checkbook, and ATM PIN without even a little adult supervision?
  • Athletes are a confident and driven crowd. Their feeling brains measure careers in years, even though most only play for a few months (about 42 paychecks for the NFL).
  • Athletes are bullet-proof – again, over confident – it’s always the other guy who gets hurt.
  • Athletes with money tend to attract people who don’t have money. Enough said.
  • Athletes sometime believe their own press. If you’ve been told you’re special and capable of great things all your life, you start to believe it. And just because you can do amazing things with a ball, puck, or whatever, it doesn’t mean you know anything about running a franchise.
  • Athletes are merely as good as their last performance. We just like winners. And the latest “great one” is always in the upcoming draft.

As difficult as it is, allowing your feeling brain to make all your financial decisions can be disastrous.  As much as it hurts, and as lazy as your thinking brain is, you must find ways to engage your thinking brain for critical money decisions.

The best way to do this is:

  1. Know your money temperament – how you think and feel about money decisions.
  2. Hire a coach –  someone who will hold you accountable.

Successful people delegate and outsource all the technical things about money they are not good at, or don’t like to do.  Contrary to what the talking heads say, managing money is hard work.

Support your team.  Cheer them on.   Learn from their mistakes.

Who’s your money coach?

Money Made Personal –  Ted


Here’s a good link on the topic:

15 Ways Professional Athletes Go Broke , By Tony Manfred, Business Insider, Mar 11, 2013