Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Are Black Athletes Being Played?

Guestpost: It seems my boy Dollar Bill the Hot Tub Don (pronounced all at once like A Tribe Called Quest) has decided to get off the sideline and into the game, so to speak. He weighs in on this post with a question as to the dearth of African American sports agent and why do so many professional athletes end up broke.

The teams competing in the NBA finals have finally been decided (Sorry Lebron, I really thought it was your year.) and I, like most sports fans, am preparing for what looks like a good series. In fact, I’m getting the hot tub prepared and warmed up even as I write this. And this year the hot tub will be extra hot, caliente hot! But back to the business at hand.

Now, I’m a huge sports fan. Not the fanatical type that shows up at games all painted up or sitting in the stands in the dead of winter with my shirt off (kids don’t need to see all this on TV), but an avid sports devotee nonetheless. In fact, my day usually begins and ends with SportsCenter and a quick glimpse at espn.com.

But I’m not simply a casual observer. I view sports with a critical eye as it usually indicates or reinforces many truths about our society and especially our culture. And one thing that has always struck me as odd is the conspicuous absence of black sports agents and the number of millionaire athletes who will soon be dead broke. Perhaps the two are interrelated, but there are other implications.

Yes, there are some black sports agents, but the small percentage of black sports agents does not correlate with the vast percentage of professional black athletes. At last count, blacks made up about 67% of the athletes in the NFL and 75% in the NBA (aaregistry.com), but the percentage of those athletes patronizing black agents is miniscule.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not attempting to posit some kind of affirmative action quota system here. If I am sick, I want the best doctor regardless of his/her racial or ethnic background. So, it would follow that I understand the mid level or free agent type of player retaining the very best personnel to maximize his earning potential and marketability, and if that personnel just happens to not be a person of color, then so be it. However, once you've achieved a certain level of success and financial security, like say a Lebron James and Kobe Bryant, shouldn't you be compelled to address the dearth of black sports agents?

And perhaps closely related to this issue is the fact that most of those athletes making obscene amounts of money now will be dead broke in the near future. Consider these statistics from the Sports Illustrated March 23 article, “How (and Why) Athletes Go Broke”:

§ By the time they have been retired for two years, 78% of former NFL players have gone bankrupt or are under financial stress because of joblessness or divorce.

§ Within five years of retirement, an estimated 60% if former NBA players are broke.

Unbelievable right? The list of broke or nearly broke former pro athletes reads like a who’s who of the sports word: Saints all-time leading rusher Deuce McAllister, Panthers receiver Muhsin Muhammad, and let’s not forget hapless Broncos running back Travis Henry who was jailed for non-payment of child support to his nine kids by seven different my baby’s mommas.

While I respect and admire a number of professional athletes, someone has got to begin using their head for something besides a hat rack.

Despite the millions of dollars professional athletes earn, the lion’s share of the money to be made through professional sports ends up in someone else’s pocket. Yeah, you get to floss for a few years, but then where are you at? What are you left with? It’s almost the plantation system revisited; team owners and franchises and agents, among others, earn money by the sweat of the black athlete’s brow, and the athletes are more than content with it. In effect, even as they play, they are being played.



kenn. said...

And don't even get me started about the music industry.

Anonymous said...

I cant believe Deuce is broke. He was just a probowl running back. Didnt he get injured? Dont these guys take out huge insurance policies with Llyods of London?

Max Reddick said...

@ kenn

Yeah, that's a whole nother story. A let of African Americans have gotten filthy rich through sports and entertainment, but even more have gotten absolutely fleeched. Sad stories abound.

@ anon

Yes, the Deuce! And they might have huge insurance policies, but keep in mind, a fool and his money are soon parted. And from the article I read in SI, what we are dealing with is a bunch of rich fools!

RiPPa said...

I like sports, but as I've gotten older, I've come t6o realize that its nothing but the modern plantation. Last time I checked, nobody got rich picking cotton for free.

Max Reddick said...

Yeah, it seems only a hand full of brothers and sisters get rich and stay rich. It's just like the recording industry. They let them appear well off for a time, but as soon as their shelf life expires, they are done with them. And the athletes play right into it.

MoMo said...

Good post, you probably hear this all time though. I think part of the problem is that these athletes go to college and major in Kinesiology or Criminal Justice or History, & etc, that being said, (there's nothing wrong with that), however it's not preparing them for the financial lifestyle that is thrust upon them, because you don't work in college because you have a scholarship and essentially you are taken care of and it continues on through professional play until you get hurt or let go. They should be taking finance, money management, or accounting or something, but then again they might not make the grades that they to make in order to play in college, you can't make it to the big leagues from college if you always studying instead of practicing in your spare time.

Max Reddick said...

Thank you for your generous compliment. And no, I do not hear that all the time. In fact, I wish I heard it more. But I'm trying.

You are right; college is underpreparing them. But in the same instance, how can you prepare to be an instant millionaire overnight?

Anonymous said...

Is anyone really free? I think this issue falls on deaf ears as it concerns the masses due to these guys being at the top of food chain as far as wage slaves are concerned.

Anonymous said...


Max Reddick said...

@ Anon 1

You are right. We all are slaves in someway or another. But some of us more than others, and some of us unnecessarily so.

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