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- December 1, 2015: Vol. 2, Number 12

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Why Sports Stars Go Broke: A former financial planner for the NFL Players Association offers some observations on the matter

by Rick Kagawa

Bankrupt seems to be the most common word to describe professional athletes.

Seventy-eight percent of NFL players are broke or under some kind of financial stress within two years of retirement, according to a 2009 Sports Illustrated survey. Fifty percent of NBA players have no money five years after leaving the league. These statistics are similar to people who win the lottery. Nearly 70 percent of all lottery winners go broke or file for bankruptcy. These statistics are far from coincidence.

I spent 11 years as an approved financial planner for the NFL Players Association. Some of the stories I witnessed horrified me. After their NCAA career is over and before the draft, the promising young players are approached by agents who want to represent them. Many of the players choose their agents using the criteria of who can get them the biggest line of credit before the draft. Talk about counting your chickens before they hatch. They then use this line of c

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