Financial Illiteracy: America’s True Crisis

Roland S. Martin
Roland S. Martin

The hugs, kisses and tears were flowing in the NFL’s green room Thursday at the league’s annual draft, where players from across the country realized their dreams of playing professional football and cashing multimillion-dollar checks

Unfortunately, nearly 80 percent will repeat the exercise three to five years after their careers are over, as they will cry and kiss goodbye a potential lifetime of financial security.

It is staggering to think that nearly four out of five athletes will file for bankruptcy after signing massive contracts. But when your life is filled with big (and multiple) houses, large entourages, splurging on bottle service at the clubs and handing out money like candy to friends and family, it is no wonder that these men with big talent can be so careless with money.


Because the average athlete is trained not to worry about things in life such as paying your bills, saving and investing. They are told from day one: Focus on nothing but football and let someone else handle the other stuff. That’s why the teams, whether its high school, college or the pros, make it their business to take care of all of their needs. They need that athlete in tip-top shape to perform on game day.

But that does nothing for the athlete to handle sudden riches and fame. The NCAA doesn’t help this. They don’t want agents and financial advisers shuffling money under the table to a player. The NCAA just wants to keep cashing their big checks. However, that player needs training and assistance in this area of their life, more than any other.

And the reality is that most of these players who will be bankrupt are African-American. They are coming from impoverished backgrounds where their family members don’t know a thing about stocks, bonds, T-bills, mutual funds and other investment strategies.

Yet this is an American problem, and not just one affecting athletes.

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Roland S. Martin is senior political analyst for TV One and author of the book “The First: President Barack Obama’s Road to the White House as Originally Reported by Roland S. Martin.” Please visit his website at To find out more about Roland S. Martin and read his past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at

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