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Miller: Lockout Loans a Sign the System is Broken

We often complain in the sports world about how athletes are (over)paid millions to play a kids game for our entertainment and can never seem to hold onto any of it, especially when these athletes are, in the face of a lockout, taking out short-term, high-interest loans to make ends meet. But Scott Miller of the National Football Post tells us why we should blame the system, not the players.

Most professional football players are the product of a broken system. It’s a system that hands them a footballscholarship to an academic institution, and expects them to understand how to properly take advantage of higher education. It’s a system in which players go from being college students to instant millionaires, and then expects them to save their money. It’s a system that dictates everyday on the field is a job interview and expects kids to stay four years to get a degree. ...

It’s not the money or the financial advisors or the agents that have failed these players. No, it’s the system that expects a session at the rookie symposium to deter players from spending their millions. It’s the system that assumes a stint at a university will prepare players for the "real world" — as if they have some concept of what the "real world" is like. It’s a system that only pays its players during the season, and then is shocked when the money runs dry in the offseason.

Okay, you can say the players should be excused because they've never been in this situation before; I mean, sure, when I got my first paycheck in 8th grade for announcing baseball games in Little League, a whopping at the time $80, I spent the whole thing too. And when I stepped up and had a $180 paycheck working after high school at the movie theatre, it's not like I had a car payment to work on - wait, I did, never mind.

I trust that you realize I'm being facetious; of course, we can't compare our piddling daily lives to the athletes required to fuel one of the nation's largest industries. We don't make millions; hell, most of us don't make six figures. We can say all we want "Well if I was given $400K, I wouldn't blow it all." But if someone handed you a lottery ticket for $10M, more likely than not, you're spending some, if not most, of it somehow. After all, isn't that the point of money - to fuel transactions?

But if the system really is to blame, what's the solution? Is it to sit there and hope the athlete develops either a learning curve or a point where he's already bought what he wants? Is it even a situation there's a solution to?

I understand it's something that isn't the responsibility of the fans (us), and it can't really be the league's business to watch how the players are spending their money.

So, I ask you fine folks. Is this a system that needs fixing? Is it all the players' fault? Or is there a logical solution for the players?