That's my more exciting title to this great Sports Illustrated article: "How (and why) athletes go broke"
In a less public way, other athletes from the nation's three biggest and most profitable leagues-the NBA, NFL and Major League Baseball-are suffering from a financial pandemic. Although salaries have risen steadily during the last three decades, reports from a host of sources (athletes, players' associations, agents and financial advisers) indicate that:The usual suspects are represented (divorce, usually because of infidelity, rapacious agents and hangers-on) but one interesting aspect was this: many athletes don't invest in traditional securities because they're too abstract. Instead, they buy cars or jewelry or nightclubs because they seem tangible. Soon they're pawning their championship rings.
- By the time they have been retired for two years, 78% of former NFL players have gone bankrupt or are under financial stress because of joblessness or divorce.
- Within five years of retirement, an estimated 60% of former NBA players are broke.
- Numerous retired MLB players have been similarly ruined, and the current economic crisis is taking a toll on some active players as well.