Money Smart Athlete Blog

Annual Rewind: The Money Smart Athlete of 2021

Dec 29, 2021 | Special Themes

By Iacovos Iacovides, APC Sports

Greetings to all of our readers and happy holidays to everyone celebrating. This is a special one, as it is our final piece of a bizarre and tumultuous year. These last twelve months have been tough for millions of people around the globe who suffered from the pandemic and lost loved ones. We can only hope that 2022 will be better for everyone.

Nonetheless, the pandemic has also taught us a few valuable lessons; how to adapt and adjust, what is important and what is not that important, and here at the Money Smart Athlete Blog we tried to communicate all that through our work in an attempt to help athletes, but also others related to the sports industry, to thrive. After all, our mission is to empower athletes in order to grow and develop, to face challenges head on, avoid cardinal mistakes and make financially savvy decisions. Our topics this year were based on 3 pillars: the financial education of athletes, the social education of athletes and the state of the sports industry itself. Over the past 12 months we discussed topics ranging from financial literacy and youth empowerment, to mental health and eSports.

Financial literacy is of paramount importance for all athletes. It is widely known that athletes from every corner of the world struggle to set their finances in order and ensure their long-term financial well-being.  Sports Illustrated once estimated that within two years of retirement, 78% of former NFL players go bankrupt or are under financial stress, while 60% of NBA players are broke within five years of retirement [1]. Our research has found several factors contributing to these trends such as, the sudden wealth phenomenon, peer pressure, family demands and most importantly lack of financial knowledge. We believe that the antidote is basic financial education, awareness of the dangers lurking in your social environment, and reliable, trustworthy financial advisers who can assist athletes with their financial planning and the management of their wealth.

Nonetheless, we believe that financial well-being, albeit important, is but one aspect of the athlete’s life. This year we also discussed mental health, philanthropy and activism, and branding. Branding is vital for maximizing financial gains but also for guarding the athlete’s reputation and standing in the community. Issues of mental health among athletes on the other hand, have for years been swept under the rug, but with the public intervention of Naomi Osaka last June it has gained the attention it deserves. After all, it is one of the most prevalent health-related issues of the 21st century. Philanthropy and activism have become ever more prevalent among athletes. However, nowadays athletes are not just congratulated when they give back or when they speak out for social justice, but are criticised if they fail to do so. This leads to the conclusion that athletes are pretty much expected to be charitable and call out injustice when they see it.

This year we also conducted research on certain parts of the sports industry which we deemed to be the most rapidly changing including female sports and eSports. Female sports have for long lived in the shadow of male competition in terms of reach, attention, investment and salaries. It has become clear that this is now changing and that the huge gap has begun to shrink. As far as eSports are concerned, their meteoric rise is an unprecedented phenomenon; apparent from their popularity, but also investment levels, which in the span of a couple of years went from millions to billions. Revenues do not lack far behind.

Financial literacy and athlete empowerment are the cornerstone of our philosophy and the backbone of our mission. We want to ensure that athletes do not only get the attention they need, to stay fit and perform on the pitch, but that they also stay healthy emotionally, mentally and financially. This is what we will keep doing in 2022. We would like to thank all of our readers around the world and wish each and every one a happy new year. We hope that 2022 will be better than the year we are about to bid farewell and that we will be able to enjoy our favorite sports and athletes without looking over our shoulders. We will see you all again in a few days. Stay safe and healthy!

We would love to hear your thoughts on topics to be covered during 2022 by the Money Smart Athlete Blog.  Please get in touch with us at [email protected] and we promise to address your areas of interest.

[1] How and why athletes go broke