ESPN Films Broke: Cautionary Tale an Important Watch for Fans and Young Athletes

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistOctober 2, 2012

30 Sep 1990: Quarterback Bernie Kosar of the Cleveland Browns passes the ball during a game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Cleveland Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. The Chiefs won the game, 34-0.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

If you've ever wondered how athletes who make millions upon millions dollars end up going broke, ESPN's "30 for 30" film Broke is a must watch. 

Especially for young athletes.

The film, directed by Billy Corben (The UCocaine Cowboys, Limelight), chronicles how so many athletes end up losing it all. Athletes such as Keith McCants, Bernie Kosar, Andre Rison, Curt Schilling, Jamal Mashburn and Cliff Floyd, amongst others.

Corben's inspiration from the film came after he learned a shocking statistic about NFL and NBA athletes after they retire (via Tom Mahon of the Philadelphia Daily News):

In a conference call last week, Corben said he got the idea for the film, in part, from a 2009 Sports Illustrated article that noted 78 percent of NFL players are cash-strapped just 3 years after leaving the sport and 60 percent of NBA players are tapped out within 5 years.

On the "30 for 30" page at, Corben had the following to say about what he hopes his film shows:

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.

Without question, it's a cautionary tale for young professional athletes or even aspiring college stars who will soon earn that big paycheck. The numbers may be huge on that first paycheck, but eventually you can run out of decimal places in your bank account if you spend unwisely.

It's also a humanizing story to tell. So often I hear people talk about spoiled athletes who are idiots for spending crazy amounts of money, almost reveling in the financial woes of players like Vince Young when they lose everything.

But wouldn't you be tempted to spend lavishly if you were suddenly handed a million dollars after not having anywhere near that amount of money in your life? Wouldn't you want the big house, fast cars and blurry nights out on the town? 

And even if you didn't, what if you made a poor investment? Or bought too many things for family members and friends? Or simply had no idea what to do with all of that loot?

As Corben notes, some people love to blow money on useless crap. Not everyone is mature in their 20s, which I know from firsthand experience. However, if going broke really is as easy as Corben suggests, I'm interested to find out why.

Broke premieres Tuesday night on ESPN at 8 p.m. ET. 


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    Iconic Sports Illustrated Writer Deford Dies at Age 78

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    Iconic Sports Illustrated Writer Deford Dies at Age 78

    Tyler Conway
    via Bleacher Report