The invisible microscopic SARS-CoV-2 virus that is responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic has altered the global economy on many levels. Schools have hastily modified curriculums, standards, and testing for online learning. Companies have been able to assign some employees tasks that can be accomplished remotely. The use of live telecommunications on a variety of platforms have been quickly and efficiently adapted by schools and companies to blunt the economic effect of forced global lockdowns, quarantines, isolation, and social distancing.
Governments around the world have stepped up to provide emergency funds to those whose jobs have not been adaptable to working remotely. In the United States, the Federal government response included a stimulus check for most Americans along with increasing weekly unemployment benefits.
News stories highlight how the pandemic affects the earnings power and financial planning of people across all walks of life from the CEO to the Wait Staff at local eateries. Everyone is affected. When Professional Sports have been the subject of these out of work stories, they usually highlight the jobs lost at venues including ticket sellers, ushers, concession and maintenance workers as well as many other jobs that are ancillary to playing professional sports.
Most of these stories about the economic impact of the pandemic fail to mention the impact among the professional athletes, star players and coaches. While it is still undecided if professional seasons can be salvaged and full pay restored to professional players, coaches and staff, the pandemic is shining a glaring spotlight on the need for financial planning throughout the ranks of professional sports.
The Players Unions Might Backstop the COVID-19 Financial Damage
Players Unions have continued to change the financial outlook for professional sports players. The NBA Players Association (NBAPA), is an effective union that has diligently worked on increasing player retirement and health insurance packages. Guided by league All-Stars, the NBAPA has worked towards a secure financial future for the Players.
Most people are enamored by what is perceived as astronomical salaries of Professional Sports Players. The salaries in the headlines and make people think that all professional sports players are financially secure are misleading. The large salaried stars are a small percentage of professional team sports, most the players are rank and file players whose careers end after a short time due to a decrease in abilities or injury.
It will be up to the owners and players unions to negotiate how the salaries of players will be paid if at all during the pandemic shortened and cancelled seasons. Many players may also lose an important tenure year that they need to qualify for retirement income and or health benefits. These items will all be negotiated by the Players unions on behalf of all the players in each sport.
Federal and State laws exclude athletics as a job, career or profession that qualifies for unemployment benefits. In this unusual time of cancelled and delayed professional sports seasons, players are left to fend for their financial needs. The unions will act as a backstop to try to ease the financial needs of their players, however this unprecedented time is a dire warning for all Professional Athletes including Star Players to be financially prepared for the unexpected.
The SARS-CoV-2 Warns Professional Athletes about Financial Stewardship
The COVID-19 pandemic is a warning to the world that its medical services and research has been woefully underfunded and is unprepared for a catastrophic health emergency on a pandemic scale. For every rank and file Professional Athlete and Star Players the invisible, microscopic, SARS-CoV2 is a dire warning to put your financial house in order. The currently canceled, shortened, and suspended seasons was an unforeseen contingency for all those who rely on professional sports for their financial livelihood.
This is a wake up call for Professional Athletes to seriously consider their financial investments that will protect their future during unforeseen events. Professional Sports Players have the tragedy of a career ending injury constantly hanging over their heads. Many players never prepare for that eventuality which could also eliminate them from qualifying for retirement and health benefits after a shortened career.
Professional Players and Star Athletes should begin their financial plan on the day they sign their contracts as Professional Players. That does not mean to just hand over the financial reins to anyone that is recommended by agents, managers, or business associates, it means to become a Financial Steward, a guardian of your future.
For years there have been stories about Hall of Fame Players being financially destitute after their professional sports careers. Although Players Unions have come a long way in addressing these problems, the individual Players and Star Athletes have not been educated on how to be their own Financial Steward. Many sports agents who are only concerned with their contract commissions are complacent in recommending unvetted financial advisors to their Star Athlete Clients thinking their duty has been fulfilled.
A dedicated Sports Agent who realizes the importance of each athlete obtaining an education steeped in financial literacy is essential. Only when an Athlete can understand his investments can he truly be prepared to control his financial future. Becoming a Financial Steward of their resources is necessary for every player not only to prepare for the career ending injury or retirement but also to be prepared for the unforeseen like a worldwide pandemic.
Everyone, including Professional Sports Players and Star Athletes needs to listen to the warning of COVID-19, it is not only warning of the dangers of not investing in medical services, technology and research, it is also warning of the dangers of not being financially prepared in case the next pandemic or tragedy disrupts your life or cuts your career drastically short.