November 6th, 2012 by Abigail Ronstadt
WHAT IF I TOLD YOU … ? More money, more problems. “BROKE” digs into the psychology of men whose competitive nature carried them to victory on the field yet seemed to ruin them off the field.
Even the ones who won it all can end up losing everything. Young professional athletes who do what they love for a living and who some of us ‘worship’ as indestructible heroes, because they followed their dreams, can self-destruct. It is a common story in sports: young men who come across too much, too soon and are not fully prepared to deal with the level of mega-success and mega-money.
It is no great shakes anymore when a young athlete signs a big contract but it becomes headline news when they file for bankruptcy. I, for one, have surely asked myself ‘how someone who makes millions a year can live from paycheck-to-paycheck like someone who only earns $20,000 a year and can abruptly file for insolvency.’
Volume Two of the new 30 for 30 series starts with “BROKE” directed by Billy Corben, which sheds a lot of light on exactly that burning question, WHY so many top athletes end up ‘broke’ during or shortly after they retire from their respective careers.
Our common answer would be that these athletes are just simply irresponsible; spending money like it is going out of fashion on mansions, cars and jewelry. But here is another thought that “BROKE” poses: it is not just about “Keeping up with the Joneses” which refers to the peer pressure in the locker rooms to show off what you have got.
A lot of big name athletes lost their fortunes because of bad investments, feeling obligated to help out family and friends, trusting financial ‘advisers’ and – one fact that everyone forgets (or ignores at their cost) – Uncle Sam takes a big lump of their paycheck in nearly every state they play in.
“BROKE” digs into the mindset of former NBA, NFL and MLB athletes whose extreme competitiveness and win-at-any-costs attitudes on the field of play sometimes carried over to financial ruin off the field.
This film tells the painful stories of former stars such as Bernie Kosar, Andre Rison and Curt Schilling through a series of intimate interviews and the many reasons why some of them found themselves on the other end of the high life after they retired. It vividly and sadly illustrates that the people we admire and put on pedestals are just human and make mistakes … BIG mistakes!
This is an amazing documentary for everyone – even us sports fans – but most especially for young athletes who need to understand the lessons taught in this film than learning them the hard way later on in life.
Following the words of Baltimore Ravens’ owner Steve Bisciotti, young athletes have to decide whether they would like to “live like kings for a year or like princes forever” … because at one point the ball will stop bouncing !!
“In June 2009, we interviewed quarterback Bernie Kosar for the ESPN 30 for 30, The U. Anyone who knows Bernie will tell you, he’s as kind and generous a guy you could ever meet. In fact, he was extremely generous with his time that morning; he talked with us for several hours and, afterwards, took pictures and signed autographs for the crew.
“A few weeks later, Dan LeBatard broke the news: Following a series of bad investments and a costly divorce, Kosar had filed for bankruptcy. It was a shock. Beyond football, Kosar was renowned for his business savvy and known to have been even more financially successful after his decade-long NFL career than during it.
“Personally, it broke my heart. Other than appearing tired at times, there was little or no indication during the hours Bernie spent with us that he was in the midst of this ordeal.
“In the early part of the millennium, you’d occasionally hear about a high profile athlete suffering financial difficulties, but Pablo Torre’s article, ‘How (and Why) Athletes Go Broke,’ in the March 2009 Sports Illustrated, cast a spotlight on what seemed to be an emerging epidemic in the wake of the 2008 economic meltdown. These days, it seems there’s a new story every week and we felt these stories were worth exploring. Not everyone was so enthusiastic about it, though.
“They say the most uncouth subjects for dinner conversation are politics and religion. I gotta add money to that list. Athletes, a famously proud group, were not particularly anxious to discuss the state of their finances, so getting interviews for this project, not surprisingly, proved to be a challenge. I really admire the people who agreed to speak with us because they sincerely felt like they have something to offer the next generation and hope that others will learn from their experience.
“The way “Broke” is structured, it’s not about people, per se, but the problem, told by the people who experience(d) it. It’s essentially a step-by-step guide, How To Lose Millions of Dollars Without Breaking a Sweat.
“Conventional wisdom is that professional athletes blow a lot of money on useless crap. Spoiler alert: professional athletes blow a lot of money on useless crap. But that’s barely the tip of the iceberg. I was surprised to discover — and I think others will be, too — how easy it is to go broke…”
Director: Billy Corben
“He [Billy Corben] gets them all to really open up about the many ways and motivations for throwing their money away; every time the film threatens to feel repetitive, we get some remarkable new detail about a business deal gone awry, or a surprising emotional moment.”
Alan Sepinwall – HitFix.com
“The sketchy relationship between athletes and money involves more than just over-indulging in strippers. More fundamentally, as Broke points out, it’s a matter of young men who suddenly find themselves with a ton of money that they obtained not with business acumen but for their ability to throw a ball. Even the most sober of them has little idea how to handle it.”
Glenn Garvin – The Miami Herald
COMING SOON in the 30 for 30 Volume Two Season
Check local listings for premiere and repeats screenings for Vol 2 films, as well as re-runs of archive ESPN Films
“There’s No Place Like Home” – A story of the most important document in sports history – James Naismith’s original rules of basketball – and the quest to return it home.
“Benji” – In 1984, 17-year-old Ben Wilson was America’s most talented basketball prospect until the sweet-natured boy was senselessly murdered.
“Ghosts of Ole Miss” – In 1962, the University of Mississippi erupted in violence over integration while swelling with pride over an unbeaten football team.
“You Don’t Know Bo” – Vincent ‘Bo’ Jackson hit 500-foot home runs and ran over linebackers. A look at the man and the myths of a two-sport legend and pop culture icon that captured our collective imagination.
© ESPN 2013