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Bankruptcy Law Blog

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Why Do Sports Stars Go Bankrupt?

According to Sports Illustrated, “78% of former NFL players have gone bankrupt or are under financial stress because of joblessness or divorce” within two years of retirement. “Within five years of retirement, an estimated 60% of former NBA players are broke.” Well-paid players in other sports do just as poorly. 

So, what goes wrong? And how can we, mere mortals, hope to secure our financial future and avoid bankruptcy, when sports gods earning millions of dollars cannot? The answer is a little bit Uncle Ben and a little bit fate. 

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility 

In the real world, sports stars are the closest thing we have to super heroes. So, perhaps a few of them should listen to the words of wisdom passed down to Spiderman from his Uncle Ben — with great power comes great responsibility. 

The fact that wealthy athletes can blow through millions without blinking an eye, then wonder what happened, is not surprising when you consider how easy it is to spend any amount of money if you don’t have a budget.

Case studies have shown that many athletes are focused so intently on excelling at their sport that they ignore the business side of being a professional athlete. Knowing how to budget and invest wisely is a skill that must be learned and practiced, just like a play or an athletic skill set. 

This is true for all of us. Financial management is not something most people automatically understand. This is one of the reasons why the law requires people who want to file for bankruptcy to get credit counseling and take debtor education classes

Athletes and normal people should see hiring an experienced financial advisor as being as essential as working with a good coach or trainer. Paying someone to teach you skills you don’t have and hold you accountable is normal in other parts of your life, so why should we expect people to handle their money without any help?

Fate is Inexorable 


The Sports Illustrated article mentioned above talks about how many athletes get no or really bad financial advice, but it also points out that very few professional athletes make the big bucks. We see eye-popping salaries in the news, but only the best of the best are making that kind of money. Most athletes make far less than most of us imagine, for a very short amount of time. Oftentimes their careers are cut short by serious injuries that cost a lot of money to treat. 

Job losses and unexpected healthcare expenses are something we can all relate to. They are common precursors to bankruptcy for many people. 

Sports Stars, They’re Just Like Us 

None of us can prepare for sudden job loss or health crises, but we can be more careful with our spending. In that way, we are all very much like the sports stars we admire. 


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Alabama State Bar Association Regulations require the following: "No representation is made that the quality of the legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers." 11 U.S.C. 528 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code requires the following: "We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.”