Money Smart Athlete Blog

The financial vulnerability of female athletes and the difficulties of creating a financial identity

Mar 22, 2023 | Women Athletes

By Constantinos Massonos, Contributor                         

Numerous articles on our blog have gone into great detail about the extremely unique nature of the athletic profession. Athletes make significant sums of money but only within the confines of a short time period, typically 10 to 15 years, and their income is highly volatile and dependent on their performance and physical health. As data suggests, athletes are very prone to financial trouble, with many ending up broke just years after the end of their athletic careers.

Female athletes may be even more financially vulnerable than their male counterparts due to a variety of factors:

  • The gender pay gap. Despite having comparable levels of success, female athletes frequently make less than their male peers in sports
  • Shorter career span. Female athletes frequently quit sports earlier than male athletes do to start families and as a result, they may have a shorter window of opportunity to generate money from their sport
  • Pregnancy and childbirth can affect women’s ability to earn income and compete at a higher level

And while, in recent years, women athletes are pushing to minimize the gender pay gap, several other issues are preventing them from building their financial identity, which is critical in achieving financial stability and independence and in avoiding the financial insecurity that usually comes at the end of an athlete’s career.

Barriers for women athletes to create a financial identity do not only originate from sports. Women have historically been denied credit or charged higher interest rates than men, which can make it harder to build a credit history and, in some cultures, women are not even allowed to manage their own finances, limiting their ability to establish a financial identity. Lack of financial knowledge is another factor that can make it difficult for them to make informed financial decisions, such as how to save money, invest, and avoid debt

However, there are several steps women athletes can take to create a financial identity despite these challenges:

  • They may work with agents and lawyers who can help them navigate contract negotiations to ensure they receive fair compensation for their skills and achievements.
  • They can hire a financial advisor who specializes in working with athletes and can help them create a budget, plan for retirement, and invest their earnings wisely.
  • They should try to build a strong credit history by paying bills on time and managing debt responsibly.
  • They can financially educate themselves to learn more about managing their money and making smart financial decisions.
  • They should try to build alternative streams of income by pursuing sponsorships, endorsements, and other business opportunities.

Overall, creating a financial identity as a female athlete may require overcoming some unique challenges, but it is possible with the right strategies and support. The key is to be proactive and intentional about managing their finances to ensure they can achieve their financial goals both during and after the end of their athletic careers.

The Money Smart Athlete® Blog is established and run by the Sports Financial Literacy Academy® (SFLA).  Through its education programs, the SFLA has the vision to financially educate and empower athletes of all ages to become better people, not just better athletes.  For more information on our courses, our SFLA Approved Trainer Program®, and how they can benefit you and your clients, please get in touch with us at [email protected].