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Money: What Makes Athletes Business-Ready After Their Careers End?

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David Beckham, according to CNN, has turned a Miami MLS dream into a reality. Gary Neville, his former colleague at Manchester United, has been in the BBC’s sights for transforming into a businessman. Michael Jordan is the most successful entrepreneur-athlete of the 20th and 21st centuries.

At a glance, it seems as if professional sports stars are born to be kings of the capitalist regime, but is that the truth? Or, are they molded into men via their surroundings? On a more basic level, are they lucky?


Let’s take a look at the factors and find out.

The Locker Room Politics: Sir Alex Ferguson, the greatest manager in soccer history, addressed a Harvard class where he revealed an insight. He said: “You can’t come in shouting and screaming… No one likes to get criticized.” “But in the football dressing room, it’s necessary that you point out your players’ mistakes.”

Like all careers, players and the coaching staff have to learn how to traverse the ecosystem that is the locker room. The result is a selection of men that understand how people work and what motivates them to succeed. Parallels to captains of industry in this sense are striking, which is one plus in the tick column before they even begin.

The Average Wage: The Premier League has an average weekly salary of £50,000. Compared to baseball, the NBA has an average of $6.2 million, while the MLB plateaus at $4.4 million. The NFL is at $2.1 million. These are the averages, and the highest paid stars in the world receive up to $35-$40 million in a single year.

What does this have to do with business? Well, one rule startups can’t deny is that money is essential to avoid going broke. Considering the average athlete earns more in a week than a small firm’s budget, these people have the budgets as well as the brains.

The Daily Struggle: Not every single guy that has played professionally takes the business seriously. Plenty of men don’t want to know about the inner workings of a club or franchise. The ones that do, however, have an amazing network of power and knowledge from which to learn.

Plus, they have the accessibility in the form of an online MBA program. CEOs aren’t sports guys but businessmen and women with years of experience working for the world’s largest firms. Access to their insight, as well as a favor, is what sets sports stars up to succeed.

Branding Opportunities: Beckham and Jordan didn’t make the majority of their money from sports; they did it through branding. Golden Balls himself shrewdly negotiated a deal to profit from his image rights, which got him a nice slice of the pie. Michael “The GOAT” Jordan did the same and used a sneaker deal to propel his earnings into a different stratosphere.

Now, he is one of the few sporting billionaires on the planet. With the likes of Nike and Adidas offering the chance to diversify a brand, most guys have a solid base to start from when they retire.

On the whole, it’s a mixture of understanding people, earning money, and seizing opportunities. But, which one do you think is the most important?

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