Mo’ Money Mo’ Problems

By: Eddie Greenblat, fall 2018 IAC Student Intern

Sports are a big part of my life. I watch them, read about them, and sometimes center my entire day around a big game. I think one reason I like sports so much is all of the side stories related to sports that are more about the athletes than the games. For example, I love this new tradition where at the end of the 1st quarter of every University of Iowa home football game the entire stadium waves at patients watching the game from the windows of the children’s hospital that overlooks the stadium.

ESPN Films produces a documentary series called 30 for 30. Each documentary installment highlights a different story related to sports, but not really about sports. The first one I watched, Broke, is about how athletes spend and lose their money.

This short montage of Broke provides some details about how athletes spend, save, and lose their money. For example, Dez Bryant, formally of the Dallas Cowboys, spent $56,000 on one meal at a restaurant (1:24). The clip also has some interviews that explain that the athletes invest if they “could help them and felt good about the project (2:00).” Broke was inspired by the Sports Illustrated article, How (And Why) Athletes Go Broke. This problem is specific to athletes because their opportunity to earn money based on their God-given abilities is shorter.

So, what exactly happens to the money? The SI article spotlights Rocket Ismail, a former University of Notre Dame and Canadian Football League player who signed his first professional contract for 18.2 million dollars. Ismail shared a memory where he went to a meeting with financial advisors and felt like he was “listening to Charlie Brown’s teacher.” Ismail “sank $300,000” into a restaurant modeled after Hard Rock Café, but “[had] no idea what became of the restaurant.” However, Ismail’s investment losses don’t stop there. He also invested in a failed religious movie, record label, new cosmetic procedure, phone card dispenser, and a tourist shop.

These investment issues are not totally Ismail’s fault though. Most athletes follow the advice of the professionals they surround themselves with, and Ismail did just that. Ed Butowsky, a financial advisor featured in both the documentary and SI article, explains that athletes’ portfolios are often heavy on risky investments like “inventions, night clubs, car dealerships, and t-shirt companies.”

This series will detail how athletes lose their money, save their money, and put their money to use for their communities.