Bankruptcy Protection Sought by Millionaire Athlete Warren Sapp

Are athletes like Millionaire Warren Sapp seeking Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection because they did not learn the skills on how to manage money in college? Sapp has made almost $70 million dollars in his professional career, but he may now have to rely on his own knowledge and what professional skills he has learned in order to make a living.  Will the fact the colorful athlete dropped out of college before he graduated hurt his chances for success?

The statistic that 78 percent of the NFL  membership has filed for bankruptcy protection within five years after retirement originally came from a Sports Illustrated article currently being challenged on a Wikipedia web page and studied by a Final Edits and Additions Sport and Society Class at Georgetown University. The quote has been used time and again in blogs and news articles across the internet. I have used the statistic in my own writings, but whether or not the figures are actually accurate, no one seems to be arguing that there is not an inadvertent number of NFL former players who have used the bankruptcy system after making millions of dollars for their special skills. The reason why this phenomenon is happening deserves to be studied. After all, most Americans do not make a million dollars in their lifetime, and most have never had to file for bankruptcy protection.

Many college athletes opt out of their commitment to play college ball to go professional in their given sport. It happens every year, and the age of these gladiators is getting younger and younger. All too often these same athletes do not complete their much needed education that should provide the skills necessary to survive their post professional ventures. For these young and inexperienced athletes, it may be understandable why many never developed the skills to handle money and live within a budget to survive their post professional career.

Warren Sapp, a defensive tackle All-Pro who played nine years for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and four years for the Oakland Raiders, did not graduate from the University of Miami where he played college ball.  He opted out of his senior year to play for the University to enter the pro draft in 1995.
About his decision to end his college career early, Sapp was quoted as saying in a Sports Illustrated interview, “I saw a way for my mother to retire. She’s been working a long time. I’m her last kid, her last shot, and I have an opportunity for her to kick up her feet and say, ‘I don’t have to go to work today if I don’t want to.’” Sapp’s story does not sound much different than many of the stories of athletes who come from a poor family and who were also raised by a single Mother.

During his professional career, Sapp made close to an estimated $70 million. According to the Associated Press that reported on April 7, 2012, Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection is being sought by the millionaire Warren Sapp. He listed $6.45 million in assets against $6.7 million in debt. Sapp’s $3.8 million mansion has been placed on the market for sale.

This article is not offering answers to why athletes like Sapp continue to file for bankruptcy protection, but instead, has been offered to simply raise another concern that there may be a problem with exiting college early to enter into professional sports. Are these young athletes really prepared for life’s every day challenges? Who is developing the skills they may need to survive once their professional career is over?


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