You don’t have to be a sports fan to get or appreciate this. Per a Carnival of Wealth submitter’s recommendation, we checked out the ESPN documentary Broke the other day. It’s about athletes who at one point pulled 7-digit salaries, and ended up losing it all (and then some.) The documentary was a delightful look at comeuppance, perhaps the schadenfreude, of watching people who have been excused, pampered, and allowed to slide their entire lives, finally getting pummeled by reality.
The featured subjects embodied various levels of stupidity, but the one guy who got most of our attention was Andre Rison, who holds the dubious record of scoring touchdowns for 7 NFL teams. It’s dubious because a) playing for 7 teams means he probably wore out his welcome with 6, and b) he likely played way longer than he should have. That Rison did: 4 years after that last NFL touchdown, he began a 2-year low-paying stint with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League, the Episcopal Church of football (“Everyone welcome”.)
You don’t need to watch the documentary to imagine what happened to Rison and his contemporaries, but there was a lot of premium liquor and nightclubs involved. Premium, as in $5000 a bottle. It was important to these athletes to not merely be rich, but to let others know it. As if people would see the local All-Pro wide receiver in the club and think he’s of modest means.
He wasn’t featured in Broke, only on our site, but Floyd Mayweather likes to bet $100,000 at a time on football games. To his perverse credit, Floyd likes to tweet pictures of both his winning tickets and his losers. We’re not sure which is more offensive. Probably the latter, as the implied message is “losing $100,000 in 3 hours means so little to me that it doesn’t even embarrass me.”
Look for Floyd in Broke II: Red Tide in 2014 or so. By the way, you’d figure Floyd would be a sophisticated enough bettor to understand the concept of vig (wagering $100,000 to win $90,909.09?), but maybe we’re expecting too much from our baby mama beaters these days.
Our minds fail to wrap around this one. You’re already young, rich, famous, fawned upon, and not hurting for feminine companionship. You have to spend tens of thousands of dollars swaggering in front of passersby, too? Swagger is that valuable?
You probably don’t pull a 7-digit salary, but the lessons in Broke are applicable to everyone. Rison exercised the opposite of just about every Control Your Cash mantra, in one easy lesson:
- Care what other people think.
- Buy liabilities, sell assets.
- Confuse income with net worth.
- Date a crazy broad who sets your house on fire.
There are plenty of things worth rubbing in other people’s faces. Money, in all its precious and delicate glory, is not one of them. If it’s that important to you to look rich rather than be rich, Control Your Cash is probably not for you. Especially since those two objectives contradict each other more often than they overlap. Driving a Jaguar with 72 monthly $2,500 payments – a liability, not an asset – doesn’t prove you’re rich. It proves you’re poor.
Here’s a funny epilogue from a few months ago. Rison quit coaching his alma mater this past season. No, not Michigan State (more on that later.) Rison was the head coach at his high school. We’re not sure what the going salary is for a head coach in the civic urinal that is Flint, Michigan, but we presume Rison needed the money.
But he quit, so he could…
Return to college! As a student! We couldn’t make this up. The same moronic justification for higher education that we’ve heard myriad times before:
I promised my mother, father and grandparents that I would go back and finish my degree one day
What the hell for? So he could get an internship at a local title company, eventually work his way up to middle management?
Then again, he had a perfectly legitimate reason for leaving school TWENTY-FOUR YEARS AGO without graduating:
I just got a little tired my senior year, that’s all
That’s one hell of a nap, especially for an elite athlete who presumably gets fatigued less than the rest of us do.
Recently, we’ve noticed that almost everybody lies. Not that that’s news, but as a society we’ve decided that such lies are antiseptic, maybe even charming. What’s bad is when the actions that accompany them end up being more damaging than the lies themselves. Andre Rison didn’t get a little tired in his senior year. Nor does he have any earthly reason for getting his degree. People who decry a marriage certificate as “just a piece of paper” – exactly what do you call a diploma that’s 24 years late and won’t do a thing to advance the holder’s career?
This isn’t a trip into metaphorical nonsense. We’re the last people in the world to tell you that true riches are the smile on a child’s face, or your health, or the enlightenment that comes from reading the classics. True riches are money that you can put to work earning you more money, enough to maintain the consumer-debt-free lifestyle of your choice. The unsustainable waste and financial showmanship of the ostentatious is anything but true riches.
EPILOG: Oh yeah, the guy in the picture; who has nothing to do with Broke. Here’s another piece of advice we forgot to mention: make a quarter billion, live relatively modestly, don’t squander it, date an endless parade of the hottest women on Earth, and marry none of them. Heck, this works so well that eventually broke people will just start giving you tens of thousands of dollars they can ill afford.