Going Fishing: Investing over Giving
We’ve all heard the saying, “give a man a fish feed him for a day, teach a man fish you feed him for a lifetime.” This phrase is important for any individual but I find that this saying can relate to athletes as well. Kobe Bryant said it best in his Players Tribune article. He stresses that you need to Invest and not Give when it comes to family and friends. That can also be carried over to personal purchases as well.
I’ve thought about how athletes including myself can be enablers to our own downfall when it comes to money. You’ve seen or read countless athletes who’ve lost enormous amounts of money or fell to financial troubles just by simply spending more than they can chew on friends and family. Bernie Kosar claims he was taking care of 25-50 families during his playing days according to the ESPN: BROKE 30 for 30.
When I came across Kobe Bryant’s article, I felt he eloquently described the situation athletes sometime put themselves in just by not thinking proactively. Material gifts are cool and provide instant gratification but there are other ways to give gifts. Paying for your entourage or group of friends for a night out is cool but after the next day, what is the ROI? Paying for everyone on the family vacation is cool but that money could have been spent elsewhere. Ask Trent Richardson what that's like.
I think back to the many many times I’ve spent money buying the latest trendy gift for my brothers or sister when I could have done something else. Gifts are nice don’t get me wrong but we have to start thinking ROI and the long game. I touched on how and why it’s okay to say no to your close circle when they ask for money...well here I’m telling you how you can use your money and clout as an athlete to give them more than those material gifts could offer.
Setting my sister up with an Adidas (her favorite brand) internship or externship instead of paying for her shopping spree
Paying for my brother’s school fees in a useful major he is passionate about so he doesn’t incur any student loans instead of giving him money to party with his boys
Using my connections to get a buddy of mine a sit down or job interview for something he is interested in rather than loan him money to pay his bills
Like Kobe states, this is how we need to think. As athletes you feel like buying your people everything they ever wanted will solve all the problems and you’re doing your job. When in reality you are creating a leech mentality with your circle and hurting both you and your people.
Next time you decide to help out take into account if you are helping or enabling
Invest Don’t Give
I know a couple of athletes in various leagues that have taken this concept to use their clout to help set up their family to succeed on their own. For example, Damian Lillard hired his cousin to be the family cook due to the fact he was struggling with his health at work. His cousin had his culinary license and Lillard found a way to not only help his family but help himself as well.