By Denise Turney
Last night I watched ESPN’s “30 for 30” sports documentary about professional athletes who go broke, many because they mismanaged their money. To say it was painful to watch the show is an understatement. It was absolutely hard to watch people who once had millions, some hundreds of millions of dollars, be deep in debt within 10 or fewer years after they retired from their sport. Watching the television documentary reminded me of the importance of being a good steward (manager) of what has been given to me. Watching the ESPN sports television documentary also reminded me of how quickly the high times can end.
Famous Athletes Learning from Their Mistakes
The ESPN sports television documentary made me think about examples of excess some famous athletes set. Professional athletes who appeared on the sports documentary where forthcoming. They didn’t appear to pull any punches. I appreciate that. It’s not easy to expose clay-feet-thinking in such a public way, especially considering the fact that we all have made mistakes. It was refreshing to see professional athletes who learned from their mistakes or who always managed their finances sensibly. Considering the fact that several of the professional athletes who went broke or filed bankruptcy gave others legal access to their finances and directed others to manage their money, I couldn’t help wondering if it should be a requirement for professional athletes to take accredited money management courses before signing sports contracts. This way, they might have the confidence to manage their own finances.
After the sports documentary, I thought about famous athletes who regularly set good examples, men and women who manage their money and their personal lives well, in ways that can yield years of reward. I thought about track runner, Jesse Owens, and how he handled himself both in and outside his sport. Memories of a former colleague sharing the story of her cousin, a man who played in major league baseball (MLB), who decided to step away from the sport after his wife and he added to their family. He wanted to spend more time with his wife and children. That’s a choice few famous athletes would likely make, but one this former professional baseball player never did regret.
Professional Athletes Who Are Real Champions
Then there’s Kai Greene, a professional bodybuilder, and a man who doesn’t promote excess, but who instead promotes inner vision, focus and using the strength of our minds. It was inspiring to see him commit to achieving his goal, winning Mr. Olympia, just two days after he took second place in the 2012 event. It’s refreshing to see professional athletes be secure in themselves and not need to make an appearance everywhere they go. It’s refreshing to see professional athletes truly (and I mean truly) put their children in front of the sport they compete in (not just in word or during interviews but in every day behind the scenes life from the time their children are born).
These professional athletes show that making it to the big leagues doesn’t mean you’ve become the wizard in the Wizard of Oz, someone with illusions of power. They show kids that, anyone with a dream, focus, commitment, drive, passion and talent can do what they have done. They encourage rather than discourage others to outperform them after they retire, not fearing that another athlete will eclipse their records. They root for the entire human race, not just themselves. They’re winners, real champions.
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