—–[from my facebook post May 31, 2019]—–Back in the mid-1990’s I spent a couple years camped out in the law library at the Univ of Texas. Aside from my normal visits there to keep up with hardcopies of several sport law journals that I still follow today, I spent several hours per day reading contract law journals and statutes so that I could write my own endorsement contracts when the time came. I did that due to the fact that at the time somewhere between 50% – 80% of NFL, NBA, and Major League Baseball players were broke or bankrupt within 1 to 5 years after leaving their sport. The sport of track and field had just begun the lengthy process of coming out of the longtime Olympic Games requirement of amateurism that has set our sport back several decades behind the “big 3” pro sports.
Pro players were checking their bank accounts to find that their agent or lawyer “invested” their money into ocean front property in Nebraska. Or found that their uncle who was put in charge of the money had expensive tastes and frequent visits to Vegas casinos. Or they simply didn’t understand the concept of never ending property taxes on the expensive houses and cars bought not just for themselves but family members and friends. After being ripped off or excessively generous, they were broke.
That’s where things were back in the mid-1990’s. It was so problematic that state legislatures got involved. States passed laws requiring agents to register. Sport governing bodies got involved, requiring agents to register and providing seminars to incoming athletes about financial management, not blindly trusting the enthusiastic uncle, etc. And player unions have gotten involved warning their members about certain predators amongst the agent/lawyer pool, and the uncles, etc. .Today things are better than they were back in the day.
Sadly not that much better.
Athletes still want to brag to their friends that “I have people that handle all dat”. Oprah Winfrey did a show on this subject many years ago. Using herself as an example, she talked about the importance of signing your own checks. Knowing where your money is going. Knowing the content of your contracts.
During the past few weeks in track & field, the subject of Nike cutting pay to women that get pregnant has come up. Athletes signing contracts they didn’t read. Agents letting them sign contracts that say that it can be canceled “for any reason”. Come on man!