Why Athletes (And Maybe Even You) Shouldn't Give Their Money Away

Posted 7/21/2009 by smartblackboy in Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

I was reading a great blog post by Fahamu Pecou, a world renowned visual artist and business owner, who has been nice enough to talk to me from time to time over the last 5 years.

There is a point in his post where Fahamu wonders "what if every athlete donated 5% of their annual salary to a fund that helped to secure better pay for social and civil servants, i.e. teachers, policemen, firemen, etc"

Strangely today I was also thinking about athletes, and precisely why most people expect that they should give their money away.

I agree that many athletes do silly things with their money, but so do most people - the sin in the athletes case is just magnified.

Now I love teachers as much as anyone, my mom has been a public school teacher for 31 years, and as a financial planner most of my clients are educators.

However, I've had lots of fun conversations the last couple months with a partner in a law firm that represents lots of professional athletes. We tend to talk about how athletes make poor financial and life choices (see making it rain) and end up broke.

The law partner knows that I am a big arts and nonprofit guy. I support both fields as much as possible, and one day I was criticizing the partner for not doing enough to "give back" and by extension not doing enough to encourage his book of athletes to "give back" as well.

The next few moments of conversation were enlightening.

In his opinion one of the biggest problems in the black community is that we don't have enough real wealth (which is a totally different concept than income). He suggested to me that before I start giving the shirt off of my back, I actually build enough wealth so that it can take care of generations. He was on that "grandkids, grandkids" tip.

Many athletes are under accumulators of wealth. Which is to say for someone making their income they don't have as much wealth as they should. I would rather see ball players accumulate great personal wealth than give it way to charity.

Then, when these guys have Warren Buffet money - they can give away 37.4 billion dollars to charity and still have 4 billion to support their "grand kids, grand kids".

Now that is what I would call progress.

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