G.L.Piggy [at] gmail.com
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Yglesias’ bigotry of low expectations:
Antoine Walker, who earned a ton of money as an NBA player but ended up bankrupt anyway, is now trying to dispense financial advice to other players. It’s a worthy cause, but I think doomed to failure. The nature of professional basketball is that it puts a ton of money into the hands of guys who aren’t of an age where you’d expect to see a lot of financial planning, who don’t come from social networks that are savvy about business, and who face a lot of social pressure to be big spenders.
In other words, black athletes. Yglesias thinks that the NBA needs to do something to help black men with their finances:
Establish something like a flat $500,000 per year salary for every player. Then any financial compensation a player receives over $500,000 has to come in the form of an annuity—a fixed annual payout every year for the rest of your life. A player who’s more in-demand will get offered a larger annuity than a player whose services are less-demanded. A player who’s willing to commit himself to playing for five years will get a bigger annuity than one who wants to become a free agent after two years. You’d have to rejigger the mechanics of the salary cap, but the same basic concepts could all carry over.
Yeah, that won’t ignite complaints that owners are plantationists while athletes are modern day slaves. Another alternative is to just let the athletes sort it out themselves. Why are we supposed to care about Antoine Walker, Latrell Sprewell, Allen Iverson, or Terrell Owens? We should assume that they had a lot of fun while they blew their money during their careers and that they spread joy and happiness to their family and entourage.
Just get out of the way, Matt*. Not every problem needs a grand central solution. Examples of failures like Antoine Walker are the best long-term solution. They have to do it themselves because if owners or pundits set the policy, if and when athletes continue to go broke they’ll be let off the hook. Take the power from them now and you divert the blame later.
*I’m not operating under the assumption that Yglesias’ post is meant to be all that serious. Just a passing, mindless think piece.