There are many stories that discuss the data about how professional athletes, including NBA players, quickly go broke soon after retirement. Much less talked about are efforts taken to combat the travesty of seeing those once-successful players falling into the pit of financial difficulty.
As such, a recent effort promoted by the NBA deserves a bit of attention as it has the potential to better prepare professional athletes for their next business pursuits -- off the basketball court.
The NBA has teamed up with Harvard Business School to create a program that seeks to keep athletes away from losing their fortunes. It wants to educate the players on refusing to get involved in unsubstantiated investment opportunities and spending money on risky ventures often in the realm of the restaurant industry.
The program is called Harvard Business School and the NBA: Crossover into Business, which is a semester-long platform launched this Fall that offers ten active and recently active players a chance to develop their business skills with the assistance of MBA student-mentors.
"I think where it started for me was the realization that many, many athletes make a lot of money during their careers; then they lose it very quickly after their careers," said Harvard Business School professor Anita Elberse, who helped launch the program. "The statistics are pretty sobering. So we said, can we help? We have students who are really willing to help and I think they are more trustworthy than your average person who comes out of the woodwork simply because these players are now rich."
Some notable players who have participated in the program are Chris Bosh, Caron Butler and Dahntay Jones.
"I've always taken an interest in business," said Bosh. "As basketball players, that's always one of the huge topics that come up because we come into a lot of money and we don't necessarily know the ins and outs. Our professionalism is in basketball. And for a lot of us, we didn't do much with education. ... [Harvard Business School] attracted me because it was an opportunity to learn from one of the best institutions in the world and see if I could do it."
Harvard Business School is not alone in offering this type of hands-on, educational opportunity for current and former athletes, but it is rare that schools create a curriculum specifically for said players. It is a great concept as long as players buy into the process and pay attention to the mentors.