Money Smart Athlete Blog

The Major Leagues and Financial Literacy

By Lazaros Ioannou, APC Sports Consulting Limited

 Athletes have a passion for their sport and a passion for the game.  They spend a lot of hours practicing and they focus on being successful at the game.  During their glory days of big dreams and big money, professional athletes do not think of obtaining the necessary knowledge which will help them make financial decisions with a life-long impact. However, they need to have at least a basic financial understanding to make sound financial decisions which will offer them the lifelong lifestyle they aspire to have.

Leagues are an important and integral part of the sports world. As part of their role in the sports community, they act as guardians for the well-being of their professional athletes and as such they must seek and ensure that their athletes get proper financial education.

In the United States, Leagues in cooperation with their respective Players’ Associations, have created a number of educational programs which focus on financial education.

The NBA in partnership with the NBA Players Association have been providing the NBA rookie transition program for some time now. The program is aimed at rookie players entering the League and it includes a few courses in finance.

Also, the NFL Player engagement has recently partnered with several organizations to offer student athletes, current and former players, financial education programs.

One such program is the National Football League Financial Education Program (FEP): This program’s aim is to provide players with knowledge to manage their personal finances and improve financial decision-making. The objective of the program is to ensure the long-term financial stability of players throughout the league.

The MLB, in partnership with the Major League Baseball Players Association, was among the first leagues to address financial literacy for athletes when it launched its Rookie Career Development Program in 1991.

As part of the Rookie Development Program, the MLB and the MLB Players Association host the annual symposium which brings together three to four young stars from all the Major League teams for a series of life lessons, including instruction on financial management.

Acknowledging that both prevention and sanctions are critical to tackling several issues around sports, Associations and Leagues in the United States have implemented regulatory frameworks in order to protect their sport and athletes inside and outside the field of play.

Although the leagues in the United States are taking action, and a number of leagues and associations have enacted regulations that make financial education programs mandatory to athletes entering their leagues for some years now, we see that very little is being done from the leagues in Europe and the rest of the world. Following the example of the United States, leagues worldwide should also move towards the direction of establishing regulations and procedures whereby they will safeguard that their athletes will receive financial education not only at the professional level but from the academy level as well. Financial literacy programs should be mandatory for all the young athletes that are involved in sports. Educating athletes from a young age will give them the tools to make sound financial decisions and succeed financially in their lives whether they make it into professional sport or not.

With the protection of the athlete in mind, associations and leagues from all around the world should strive to make financial education programs mandatory, not only to newcomers but to all their athletes, of all ages.

We, at APC Sports Consulting Limited and the APC Sports Financial Literacy Academy, have the vision to reverse the trend of athletes making fatal financial decisions by cultivating financial literacy as a life skill for student-athletes, active and retired professionals, and their families. We strongly believe that professional leagues and associations have a very important role to play when it comes to educating athletes and they should take appropriate action.

For a discussion and more information in relation to the financial literacy programs of various leagues, you may contact us via email at [email protected]