It was a first for the worldwide football community to watch the 2022 FIFA World Cup taking place during November and December, instead of the typical June and July. There was a lot of anticipation for the tournament, not because of the dates on which it was taking place but rather because it felt like it was “a last dance” for one of the greatest footballers of all time, Lionel Messi.
Money Smart Athlete Blog
The aim of the Money Smart Athlete Blog is to provide athletes worldwide with the tools to become money smart and help them make savvy financial decisions. We created this blog to transmit and share the knowledge we have accumulated as financial and business advisors during the past two decades.
Kylian Mbappé Lottin is a French professional soccer player who plays forward for PSG and the French national team. He is considered to be one of the world's top youngest soccer players, and is admired for his incredible speed, accuracy, perseverance and scoring ability, when it comes to his performance on the field. At 24 years old, he has already managed to achieve more than most professional soccer players ever will; winning the hearts of his fans all around the world.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, known to many as the Greek Freak, a professional basketball player for the Milwaukee Bucks of the NBA, has a life story which seems a lot like an inspirational tale. Giannis has managed to inspire crowds and win them over not only with his phenomenal performance on the court but also through the way he managed to defy all odds, come out of extreme poverty and rise to the top.
Happy New Year to all of our Money Smart Athlete Blog readers. We will begin 2023 with an inspirational theme. When it comes to defining what it means for a person to be inspiring to you, there is no clear-cut answer. In the context of athletes, one can be considered inspirational due to their performance and athletic accomplishments; being able to set an athletic goal and do everything in their power to achieve it. Achieving their goals through hard work, perseverance, self-discipline and dedication, can truly empower those who follow and admire athletes.
Athletes experience stress from multiple sources. They must attend countless hours of practice each day, travel to distant competitions at various times, and maintain consistently excellent performance. This tension is compounded by the pressure of maintaining a positively perceived public image, when it comes to news media and fans. Having a large number of supporters along with the media constantly following and scrutinizing their every move can be tremendously stressful for athletes, having an impact on their performance and, in some circumstances, their mental wellbeing.
There is no doubt that high-performance athletes become naturally recognizable as they catch the interest of spectators, finding themselves in the spotlight due to their athletic accomplishments.
An increasing number of professional athletes are shifting their focus into building their public image, the way the public (or fans) perceive them. Allowing fans to get a glimpse of their lifestyle can help them gain a sports celebrity status that will not only bring them fame but will also allow them to create alternative income streams, additional to their sports related income.
We have all seen phenomenal athletes, who were once idolized, having their reputation torn down due to their reckless behavior. Numerous athletes who had been highly successful in their sport, ended up jeopardizing all their hard work by acting carelessly in their personal life, tarnishing their name and the general public’s perception of them. In the era of social media and cancel culture, a hero can turn into a villain in a split second.
How the general public, and especially fans and supporters, view and perceive a professional athlete as a sports personality but also as a public figure can undoubtedly affect not only their brand’s strength but also their mental wellbeing and consequently their sports performance. A positive public perception can elevate an athlete in all aspects, leading to an upward spiral, whilst a negative public perception can lead to a vicious cycle of failure, which can be very difficult yet not impossible to get out of. An athlete who acts recklessly in their athletic and personal life may end up putting their reputation on the line, risking losing everything they worked so hard for in a split second. However, with proper branding and marketing efforts perceptions can change to a certain extent, and an athlete’s positive public image can be recovered.
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Over the course of the last six months or so, we have all been witnesses to a feud between Cristiano Ronaldo and Manchester United’s management and ownership. Months of rumours about Ronaldo’s off-the-field behaviour and attitude towards his teammates, managers and club owners culminated into an explosive interview of the Portuguese superstar with the British journalist Piers Morgan.
The end of any playing career is a bittersweet and emotional moment, as players must leave behind an important part of their lives, which they had cherished for years; training routines, travelling abroad, performing for their fans and celebrating their achievements. The prospect of letting go all of these and transitioning to a completely new way of life may be intimidating and stressful due to the uncertainty it comes with. Being emotionally and financially prepared is critical for a smooth transition to life after sports.
An athlete’s retirement day may come earlier than expected, due to various reasons, including the nature and intensity of their sport or due to injury. Therefore, athletes are required to have a retirement plan in place, so that they are sufficiently prepared. Since it is difficult for athletes to leave behind the sport they dedicated their whole life to, some may decide to pursue a path within the sports industry, to stay close to the action.
A critical realization professional athletes must make is that retirement from sports- voluntary or involuntary- is inevitable; with the average age of retirement being slightly below 30, depending on their sport. With a short earnings window, and numerous cases of athletes declaring bankruptcy right after retirement, it would be ideal for athletes to find that they have fully prepared and planned all along, when the day of retirement comes. With statistics reporting, that more than three-quarters of former NFL players were bankrupt within two years of retirement and 60% of former NBA players went broke within five years of retirement, planning from day one of gaining professional status is crucial. Professional athletes find themselves at the peak of their earnings early on in their sports career, creating the need for proper management and preparation to ensure that it lasts a long time.
The possibility of retirement- unexpected or planned- can be undoubtedly a challenging thought for an athlete who has sacrificed their time, effort and even personal life for the sake of their sport. However, retirement from sport is inevitable and it is best that when that time comes, an athlete finds themselves ready; having already prepared and planned for it, both financially and mentally, from their very early days. Athletes may retire for a number of reasons, ranging from injury and deteriorating physical condition, which is especially the case for NFL athletes, to poor mental health or even changing priorities and personal reasons, as was the case with tennis legend Serena Williams, who recently stepped away from tennis to focus on motherhood and growing her family.
The newly established NIL regulations for NCAA collegiate student-athletes, regarding partnerships and sponsorships have brought upon us exciting times for current and aspiring collegiate student-athletes, due to the wide range of opportunities opening up. However, one must be careful which partners or sponsors they choose to represent and be affiliated with, since this can greatly affect their professional profile and image, potentially following them for years thereafter, even after their athletic career comes to an end.
The emergence of social media and their continuous, fast-paced development through the years, have brought new levels of popularity and exposure for athletes; allowing them to promote and market their brand with greater ease, increasing their reach and audience engagement. Due to the great influence they exert on their fans and the general public, athletes can be considered as highly effective influencers for potential endorsements and promotional campaigns, ranging from sportswear to promoting social messages on current and prevalent issues such as mental health awareness.
As emphasized in our last Money Smart Athlete article, due to their relatively short careers, athletes need to create multiple revenue streams, diversifying their sources of income beyond their athletic contracts. This type of diversification can help athletes to optimize their earning potential, as part of their long-term financial strategy. As a result, athletes today tend to get involved in numerous off-field arrangements, including endorsements and sponsorships, which often provide them with as much or even more money than their sports contracts.