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 player. Because of this, there’s a good chance you’ll have little time for anything else.
In 2009, Sports Illustrated did a study of former NFL and NBA players.
This is 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 five years of leaving their sport? How is this even possible?
The reason this happens though, is because these athletes have no idea what to do outside of their sport. Their minds are so hard-wired for training and practicing, they don’t cultivate themselves with other areas of expertise. They spend the prime years of their life training to be a world class athlete, yet don’t realize they have over 40 years left to live once their careers are over.
This is why you will hear from everybody to get an education. And if you have the opportunity to get one, make the most of it. I know lots of athletes who receive a college scholarship, yet get terrible grades or do something to get into trouble. It’s hard enough to receive a college scholarship of any kind. But when you receive that scholarship and blow it all away? That’s the worst possible thing you can do.
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 athletes end at age 25. Maybe age 30 if you are really good.
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.
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 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 athlete. 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.