The very best scenario for athletes is that they manage to forge a career that lasts between 10-15 years at the top. There are always outliers like Tiger Woods, Tom Brady and LeBron James who push the envelope and enjoy longevity in their second or third decade, but the majority of other professionals experience a far shorter shelf life at the elite level.
This is the reality of sacrificing the body and removing all other distractions on course to becoming a legend in the game. What this does present is a series of challenges for those figures who suddenly find themselves out of work and anxious about the future. That fame and adulation can quickly disappear once the spotlight turns to the next player and the next season.
In order to have financial security and to start a new career path once the boots are hung up, it is important to take note of long-term wealth opportunities. Some of these strategies are just the application of commonsense, but there are other investment decisions that will separate a modest return from an ongoing revenue stream.
The nature and quality of financial advice is half of the battle with athletes in the modern era. Given the intervention of agents, third parties, sponsors, affiliates team members and those aligned with an entourage, it can be hard to ascertain what maneuvers make sense and which should be avoided at all costs. Deciding who feeds the advice and judging their success with this information is critical.
Education is a major component that is underutilized with athletes. Although they are not expected to be experts in this domain given their commitments elsewhere, having a general understanding about risks and opportunities with financial investments is in and of itself an investment. It is the type of intellectual property that allows sportsmen and women the chance to assess new details and take action against financial threats.
Aligning athletes with commercial ventures that they are passionate about is where long-term viability comes into the picture. This can be a new app design, appearing on the speaking circuit, starting a fitness and rehabilitation program, working in construction and development or becoming the face for a community non-profit. If the decision is viewed transparently as nothing more than a vehicle to drive profit and make a quick buck, it will fail to sustain itself.
Investing in property is one of the best maneuvers that athletes can tap into to provide them with stability and insurance in the market. Real estate remains one of the safest bets that any participant can make, whether they are male or female, based in the US or overseas, or happen to be in the game for a long time or see their time in the spotlight cut short due to health or competition. Valuations will remain healthy and there is scope to sell or rent out a location to generate more income.
Whatever decision that athletes take during their career or when they decide to retire, they need to have a diverse portfolio. The old adage of putting all of the eggs into one basket carries significant risk, so a mixture of these projects will ensure a level of security. The top operators across the NFL, NHL, NBA, MLS, golf and motorsport all embrace a diverse approach when it comes to their finances.
Of course there is a litany of other choices that athletes can make to secure their financial future moving forward. Consulting with a trusted accountant will give them the scope to leverage tax incentives and to work with mutual funds among other opportunities. Emerging sports talents like Patrick Mahomes in the NFL, Zion Williamson in the NBA and Kylian Mbappe in European soccer will have no shortage of phone calls and tap ups from outside interests trying to get their slice of the pie, but if they adhere to sound advice, then they have the potential to enjoy long-term wealth opportunities.