Neil Best leaves no stone unturned in the world of sports media.
Bart Scott is not 'Broke'
My experience with the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival was limited this year by other responsibilities, including the Knicks and Rangers, but I did what I could, seeing four of the five flicks offered.
After taking in "Benji" and "Knuckleball" back on April 21 I was fortunate enough to attend screenings of "Town of Runners" and "Broke" Wednesday of last week.
The former is in whatever language Ethiopian people speak, with English subtitles, and concerns a town famous for producing long-distance runners. The focus is a pair of promising teenage girls who end up as part of the country's disorganized effort to provide clubs to cultivate promising athletes.
I liked it a lot. I will keep you posted on when and where you might be able to see it in coming months.
"Broke" is from ESPN Films itself, meaning there is no question you eventually will get to see it for yourself, as it is scheduled to be shown on ESPN in October.
The film concerns the difficulties many professional athletes have had over the years holding onto their money, and features a number of interviews with those who have been affected - some of them serious, many with a sense of humor.
Before the screening - which was attended by assorted interesting people including Erin Andrews and ESPN president John Skipper - I spoke to Jets linebacker Bart Scott about the problem. He is in the film more as a voice of reason than as a victim. Here are some of Bart's thoughts:
"It's kind of like the elephant in the room. We all know it exists, we all have stories of teammates, former players we hear about, be it any sport. It transcends different sports, athletes of all types or people in general. It’s a problem for everything and it’s important to shine a light on it to put the education out there.
"I think sometimes it becomes one of those taboo things where people don’t want to talk about it. It’s one of those things that people don’t talk about religion or their money, their finances. Sometimes I think if we just talk about some of the issues out there we can help each other avoid them.
"If we hear about some of the stories, bad investment deals or sleazy agents, instead of sweeping it under the rug because we’re embarrassed, I think we can empower others to make sure the cycle doesn’t repeat itself."
Why don't veteran players help younger ones avoid the pitfalls?
"It’s different because every situation is different, because how can a veteran that didn’t make a lot of money talk to a first-round draft pick, a guy who before everything was slotted was making $64 million, a $100 million Nike deal, things like that? Everybody can’t relate to each other on the same team. It’s classism within locker rooms. Sometimes it’s an issue where you say about somebody else, well if I got that money I wouldn’t do that. But things change.
"You’re talking about a lot of people whose family, institutionally, has never been able to really understand money or had to invest money with their parents or grandparents, then you give them a bunch of money, they’re the first. They have no idea how to invest it and what happens is sharks come along with it. You think you can trust people and they invest your money wrong. They’re out to benefit themselves and not you. It’s tough to figure it out.
"I’m sure Andrew Luck wouldn’t have the same problem, because he comes from a family that understands what to do with money and how to invest it. A lot of people don’t even understand when you get your first tax, when you see that first check and realize how much taxes come out of it. It’s a shock because you spend your signing money and your first year’s salary, and I know I didn’t realize how much it would cost to have to just furnish your apartment, buy towels, buy food every week, couches, TV, cable, carpet, then give your agent three percent.
"Then in your first offseason you go out and hang out and you realize you have nothing left. Hopefully athletes learn to take advantage of the powers that they have, rubbing elbows with billionaires, high net worth individuals so they can learn from them and make the easy transition.
"You think about guys like Curtis Martin, Hakeem Olajuwon, guys like that who got into real estate, Barry Sanders with the banks, you think about guys who are going out there and asking for information. You have to seek the information. You have these billionaire owners who know how to make money, know how to run organizations. Dave Bing, now the mayor of Detroit, owned his own steel mill."