Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Post-Career Athletes and Money: How Athletes Can Protect Themselves from Financial Ruin

We’ve all heard the grim statistics about broke post-career athletes – 78% of retired NFL players are broke or experiencing severe financial stress after just two years. The NBA isn’t much better with an estimated 60% broke within five years.
Most athletes, when they’re just starting their sports career, say that fame and fortune will not affect them – they swear they will remain the same humble, lovable darlings as they were during childhood when they played on obscure mud fields.
What happens on the journey from obscure to stardom? One must take into account inflated incomes and egos, and the fact that athletes trust unscrupulous, suited up, slick-talkers without doing due diligence. Blind investing and irresponsible squandering of financial resources lead to post-career athletes’ demise very rapidly.
Although pro athletes make a good haul in multi-million dollar incomes, they are all just one play away from a career-ending injury. Just ask Joe Theisman. One snap…one tackle…one wrong fall…career over. Some blame the hectic demands of the season schedule and naivete about financial planning while others point to players believing there will be just one more contract extension to fund their exorbitant lifestyles.

Post-Career Athletes can Find Solutions

I asked one of my NFL Player Development contacts where he thought the disconnect lies. Here’s what he had to say,
I really feel like some of the players think, “That won’t happen to me.” Some have relied on what they do on the field to define them so that when it comes to something off the field they may feel like, “That’s not me” or “I’ll be that guy when I’m done playing.” Reality as we know it is that one day ALL players will be done playing.
One of two paths then has to be chosen… the athlete has to ask, “Do I rely on who I was on the field to define me or do I create a new me from here on out?” Both can be successful but I have found that the player who continues to redefine himself does much better. Go forward and create the new you and along with the old you, you will be successful.
So utilization of Player Development resources tends to come too late. We are not the enemy but can be seen as a nagging voice who constantly is reminding them of the inevitable. I have not yet met a Player Development Director who doesn’t want the best for his/her players, during and after football.
So, what’s the answer? One viable way is to hire a reputable financial auditor to make regularly scheduled checks of financial accounts and investments to make sure money is allocated where it’s supposed to go. And, it’s not supposed to go in Uncle Elmo’s pocket or Mr. Slick Word’s vacation resort in theBahamas.
One of my clients, MH Silverman, is one such auditor. Marc Silverman is a former Big 4 Audit Partner and specializes in protecting athletes from being financially exploited. His firm provides the checks and balances needed so current and post career athletes are not defrauded of their fortunes. Some of the services he offers athletes are:
-          Pre-investment due diligence
-          Portfolio audits including investment verification and valuation
-          Cash receipts and cash disbursements audits
-          Royalty audits
-          Contract compliance examinations
Marc states, “Waiting until there is a suspected problem is waiting too long.  The money is already gone.  It’s essential that athletes take a proactive approach with the checks and balances to ensure everything stays where it should – in the athlete’s hands.”
If you’re an athlete or you know an athlete, you can contact Marc Silverman at 908-794-5881 or silverman@mhsilverman.com to discuss how they can put auditing practices in place to make sure post-career athletes don’t say, “I never thought it would happen to me.”
Michelle Hill 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

7 Ways to Use Resourcefulness in the Sports Industry

Are you seeking a career in the sports industry or are you already steeped in it? No matter where you find yourself, I have highlighted seven helpful ways to use resourcefulness so you can gain an advantage in the sports field.
1. Preparation Is Everything. It’s always a good idea, whether in your career or in life, to be proactive instead of reactive. The more resources you have prepared ahead of time, the better equipped you’ll be when life gives you a present; expected or unexpected. If you’re seeking a sports career, be proactive by making sure your resume, cover letter, and reference list are polished and ready to go.
If you want to take your current sports career to the next level, prepare by taking relevant classes or workshops to increase your industry knowledge – your professional accomplishments will shine bright. Remember, prevention is better than cure. “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” Seneca
2. Make Time Work For You. Write down how you spend your time; during the week andon the weekends. Just like a food or financial diary, keep a time diary for one week to pinpoint exactly where your time is going. Assess what pockets of time you can capture and re-direct toward your career goals. If you need to enlist the help of others, don’t be shy.
Think about who you know and trust and ask them if they’d take on a temporary “assignment” to help you with a task or just to exhibit an extra dose of patience while you laser-focus on your career. Don’t take advantage of the good nature of your family and friends and always show your utmost appreciation. “Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it, you can never get it back.” Harvey MacKay
3. Clarify And Define Your Challenges.  Use your resourcefulness to find solutions to specific career challenges that arise instead of wasting precious energy worrying about them. How severe is your challenge? Do you have a career crisis on your hands that needs an immediate solution or just a minor setback that allows you some time to develop an appropriate response?
4. Creative Thinking Is Your Friend. Brainstorm for logical, non-logical, and just plain crazy ideas. Make a list of companies you have only dreamed of working for. You might want to take some time and create a vision board of your ideal career. Choose pictures of what you want your ideal career to look like. Letting your brain travel outside the box is the perfect location for inspiration and workable solutions. Perhaps you simply need a temporary fix if you’re in an intolerable situation so don’t limit yourself by thinking you need a permanent solution this minute.
5. Don’t Repeat History. The saying by Sir Winston Churchill says, “Those who fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.” No truer words were spoken when it comes to your sports career. If you continue making the same career mistakes, you will stall your career progress. Use your resourcefulness to make sure you don’t repeat your mistakes.
6. Access Your Current Resources. Resources come in many forms. Think about how you can utilize and leverage the following:
  • People in your immediate circle
  • Social Media
  • Information
  • Former bosses, co-workers, and vendors
7. Don’t Think, Just Act. If an opportunity presents itself, don’t overthink it. An opportunist takes advantage of open doors before they close tight. This doesn’t mean you take haphazard, unwise risks, but rather take one giant step through an open door instead of allowing indecisiveness to create a career stalemate. Take to heart the famous words from Wayne Gretzky, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Also, listen to the words of Muhammad Ali, the greatest boxer of all time, “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”
This article can serve as one resource to help you take your sports career to the next level. Use the steps I’ve outlined to assess your current position and to forecast where you want to take your career. Inactivity breeds inactivity. Instead, implement what Wayne Dyer has said, “Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it’s always your decison.

Michelle Hill

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Beautiful Game goes Scientific

The beautiful game, football (soccer), has been undergoing a quiet revolution in the land of its birth – England.
English clubs have always sent football talent scouts the length and breadth of the country and further afield too. Decisions on footballing matters and transfers were once based on nothing more than a hunch, a gut feel, and an ‘eye’ for talent. Admittedly there have been numerous success stories from these unsophisticated methods – I think of the late George Best being plucked from Belfast at the age of 15 by Manchester United scout Bob Bishop. Best went on to become a successful player winning several team and individual honors and was notably the European Footballer of the Year in 1968.
As for today, across England a data revolution is taking place as various top Premier League clubs are starting to realize the benefit of data and statistical analytics. You could say that football has finally embraced the premise of Moneyball (now a movie with Brad Pitt, which is set to be released in September). English football has become scientific.
Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, written by Michael Lewis, proved that data does matter in sports and can often be the difference between winning and losing.  Lewis’ book focuses on the Oakland Athletics baseball team of the early 2000s, who, under General Manager Billy Beane, assembled a winning team by focusing on an analytical approach to evaluating player performances. Beane concentrated on statistics like on-base percentage as an indicator of offensive success, going against the conventional thinking and trusted player performance measurements of the time.
Much like at the Oakland A’s, number crunchers at various English Premier League (EPL) clubs are now playing a vital role in footballing strategy. Player statistics that truly matter have been isolated. Presentations you’d expect to be given by a “quant” at an investment bank are becoming the norm. Nearly every minute aspect of a football match can be recorded and analysed. The ‘nerds’ are ‘over the moon’, as pundits and players like to say in England. Numbers are beginning to give clubs an edge.
There are numerous advocates of the data revolution.
Arsene Wenger, manager of Arsenal FC, an Economics graduate and keen mathematician, was an early pioneer of using data to make decisions on player transfers. Even at Monaco in the late 1980s, before his success at Arsenal, he had realized the importance of data and was collating and using factual evidence on players. Manchester City now has a performance analytics division, while Chelsea has a performance director – Mike Forde.  The role of a performance director, like Forde, is to support the coaching team by looking at all facets of performance outside of coaching and bring structure, policy and procedures to it.
In a recent Financial Times article, Forde, who studied Psychology in Beane’s hometown of San Diego and has studied American sports, illustrated the staggering amount of data at his disposal:
Weve somewhere around 32 million data points over 12,000, 13,000 games now”.
Other clubs, such as Bolton, have also adopted the more scientific approach. Former manager Sam Allardyce is an old school football man and is somebody you’d probably expect to favor the more traditional methods – like intuition –but he too is a disciple of data. The approach certainly worked for him at Bolton. Not a historically fashionable or wealthy club, Bolton enjoyed a period of unprecedented success under his management with the team never finishing outside the Premiership top ten from 2002/2003 – 2006/2007, as well as qualifying for the UEFA cup in 2005/2006 and 2007/2008. This was an extraordinary achievement for a club of its size and limited financial resources.
Allardyce’s signing of Welsh international Gary Speed, aged 34, for Bolton is a prime example of how he used data to evaluate a transfer decision. Many would have expected Speed to have been a dud at an age when most players have hung up the boots. However, Speed’s physical data compared favorably with younger, more celebrated and, more importantly, more expensive players such as Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard. Allardyce had no hesitation in signing Speed, a relative bargain, who went on to play until he was 38 at Bolton. Speed incidentally is still playing today for Sheffield United. It is little surprise too that Mike Forde, now at Chelsea, was at Bolton with Allardyce.
So what are the numbers and statistics that really matter for football success?
There is probably no holy grail and if there is, it hasn’t been found. Possession doesn’t necessarily win matches in football (unlike in, say, rugby) and finding a relationship between distances covered by midfielders and winning has not been proven either. Most of the key statistics now being used by top clubs have not been shared, which isn’t surprising. We do at least know that clubs are focusing on the distances covered by players at high speeds which they term ‘high-intensity output’.  Another approach is to measure a host of data on a player, including the number of passes, tackles and distances covered, and then monitor those data sets over a number of years. This at least reveals when a player regresses and is comparable to a risk management methodology by clubs. Another challenge for the number crunchers is comparability. Can you realistically compare a striker scoring a heap of goals at the top of the Championship with a striker plying his trade in the  basement of the Premier League?
Is data really making a difference?
It is probably too early to conclude whether or not the number crunchers in English football are holding the keys to the unlocking of sustained success. At times talent is so obvious that you don’t need data analytics to support a decision in football. I doubt whether Barcelona FC needed any statistics to support their decision to sign a young Argentine  by the name of Lionel Messi when he was just 13. You might also argue that statistical analytics has hardly been working at Arsenal recently as the North London club last lifted a trophy in 2005.
However, surely anything that gives you an edge in football – a multi-million dollar industry where the margins between success and failure are so slim – is worthy of embracing. It is for that reason that data analytics in football is here to stay.
Chris Conway

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Finding a Sports Agent

This article is for all the young athletes who depend on Sports Networker to provide resourceful tools for your future sports career. You’ve got hustle, talent, and on your way to the pro levelHow do you find a sports agent who has your best interest in mind? Here are some tips to help you find the right agent who will represent you, the athlete…and you, the person.

1. Ask fellow athletes and professional level personnel for referrals.

Word gets around quickly and good agents come highly recommended, based on experience and a stellar record of matching athletes to the right team and the best package.

2. Hold out for the best.

Many will attempt to woo you to sign with them. They will offer money, LOTS of it. Don’t just sign with the first agent you talk to. Interview many agents and ask a ton of questions. Believe me, they’re used to it.

3. Perform a background check.

Do your homework! Ask for references of peers and a list of former clients who obtained successful contracts through that agent. Take time to call and check out the agents’ credibility. If they’re reputable, they will not have any problem with you doing a little investigation.

4. Utilize the Sports Agent Directory.

This is a comprehensive listing of agents and their contact information. Still – do yourhomework. Just because an agent is listed in a directory, doesn’t mean he or she is reputable or the right match for you and your sports goals. Don’t do any business with an agent unless he’s an educated, certified agent.

5. Don’t sign on the dotted line just yet.

If you’re planning to play college ball, signing with an agent will wipe out your eligibility. Don’t let an agent tell you they might not be available when you’re ready to sign. There are enough good agents in the world to go around.

6. Make sure the agent is adept at CBA’s and is well connected.

A great agent is well connected in the industry. He has thousands of phone numbers of coaches, general managers, scouts, and athletic managers. He’s on the cutting edge of proposals and he’s at the top of his game with negotiation skills.

7.  The agent must be a master communicator and networker.

The agent you ultimately decide on must have top-notch communication skills and be able to talk to anyone, anywhere, anytime. After all, he’ll need those skills to successfully negotiate with team owners, coaches, and sponsors. He must be able to build honest rapport with virtually anyone and his networking skills must be unsurpassed.

8. Honesty, integrity, patience, determination, and drive must dominate the agents’ entire persona.

The agent you decide on HAS to be driven by these qualities in all areas of his life.

9. An agent should meet and exceed your needs as a client.

An agent will excel in all areas of client requirements such as endorsement deals, restructuring of contracts, doing your taxes, or simply providing an ear to you, your significant other, and perhaps even family members who have concerns. He sincerely cares for you, the individual.

10. Only the 100% committed need apply.

If you’ve narrowed your choices for an agent, put each to the test. Call at various times of the day to see if the agent picks up the phone or how long it takes him to call you back. The agent you want is the one who is available 24/7/365 and responds with enthusiasm, a can-do attitude, and stats to back up what he’s promising.
Michelle Hill

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Makeup of Becoming a Champion

The parallels of traits between successful business entrepreneurs and championship athletes are always present. And as a two-time national soccer champion on two different collegiate levels, I am a believer that there are certain characteristics that separate an athlete from a championship athlete.

How many of these traits listed apply to you, your athletes, your employees, or your co-workers? Do you have a champion in your office? Caution: These traits are sometimes best handled in small doses and not all at one time.

“Everyone tells me that the Italian championship is the toughest in the world, but I’m not afraid. In my career, I’ve always scored goals, wherever I’ve been.” – Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima

“Everybody on a championship team doesn’t get publicity, but everyone can say he’s a champion.” – Magic Johnson

“More than anything, I have learned a great deal about the amount of hard work and dedication that it takes to be a champion.” – Nadia Comaneci

Here are the 10 Degrees of Separation listed in no particular order:


Definition: wholly committed to something, as to an ideal, political cause, or personal goal

Not every day on the field is pretty. Not every day on the field is pain free. Not every day on that field is going to be flawless. But you have to stick through it every day through both the good and bad times to reach your end result.


Definition: having, compelled by, or ruled by intense emotion or strong feeling.

Having passion for the game that you are playing is crucial to your success. It’s not just something you do 9-5 or only 40 hours a week.  You not only do it every day because you have to, but because you want to.


Definition: belief in oneself and one’s powers or abilities; self-confidence; self-reliance; assurance.

This is the belief that you CAN do it.


Definition: making claims or pretensions to superior importance or rights; overbearingly assuming; insolently proud

This is the belief that no one else can do it, but you! This term receives such a negative implication, but sometimes a very necessary quality for successful athletes.


Definition: being under compulsion, as to succeed or excel.

What drives you to succeed?  The actual element that drives a champion can be different for each person, but that ingredient is always present. Every now and then this drive is a reflection of a rough childhood, maybe proving others wrong, or simply a competitive drive to win.


Definition: devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one’s own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others.

An intelligent call has to be made on behalf of an athlete about when to be selfish in the moment of the game; this includes when to take the ball themselves, not pass to a teammate, and just shoot for the goal.


Definition: a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.

This includes: the fear of a coach, the fear of losing, the fear of an opponent, and the looming fear of failure. These can become incredible driving forces for achievement.


Definition: the act or power of anticipating that which will or may come to be.

There are just some athletes you watch in awe as you enjoy their ability to have amazing vision of the field. You also have to know what you want, your own vision for yourself before you can make it a reality.


Definition: having little or no concern for oneself, especially with regard to fame, position, money, etc.

While it is important to be selfish, the opposite is also true. Despite the fact that finding balance might be difficult, this is where ultimate success may lie.


Definition: esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability.

Holds true for respect for yourself as well as respect for others.

10 traits actually make for a very short list of characteristics. What traits do you feel are missing from this list that should have been included and why?

written by Kristen Sonsma

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Athletes in the Zone - Reality or Myth?

I coached athletics for more than 33 years. During that time, I saw some unbelievable performances by many athletes. Many of the athletes involved in these performances claimed that they were in "the zone."

 However, because of the small athletic stage available, only those in attendance were able to see these. Many of the greatest stars in sports, players like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Brett Favre and Wayne Gretzky, have reported experiencing this state of mind while playing.

The Athletic Zone is a state of mind where time slows and mental focus is absolute. It is a combination of physical exertion and mental focus, usually occurring in those individuals participating in sports, that require mental fortitude. It is an extraordinary state of mind, that places you in a mediative state of being. You are void of distraction or disruption from others around you. Even your own mental clutter can't can't affect the way you perform.

Does this state of mind really exist or is it just a myth? If it is for real, can anyone from any walk of life enter this zone? Imagine a business employee, entering this zone at work. Imagine a math professor, working on an important equation. Being in "the zone' could be very beneficial to these type of individuals, when it comes to production.

Robb Wolf is a sports nutritionist. He feels that diet plays a very important part in reaching the zone. He believes in the (40/30/30) percent of calories from carbohydrates, proteins and fats. This is called the zone diet. Wolf claims that no scientific studies have ever been done on athletes that are in the zone. However, there has been studies on the zone diet. The zone diet deals mainly with a low carbohydrate diet.

This would mean that diet plays a major factor in both physical and mental performance. It is assumed that the zone begins with a mental state of mind. From there, it expands to other areas of an athletes awareness, including performance and skill execution. It also affects decision making in times of stress and confusion.

Probably the best example, that I have ever witnessed, is that of Michael Jordan's performance in the playoffs. Jordan, suffering from the flu, had a temperature of 103 degrees plus. During the 1997 playoffs, Jordan put on a remarkable performance scoring 38 points against the Utah Jazz in game five.

During this game, he was unusually quiet verbally. His mental focus was exceeding that of anytime he played. You can view highlights of his performance at a YouTube sight.

The answer to my original question is that we recognize the zone, but no scientific studies have ever been done. It appears to exist, but there is no proof.

 Bill Hinks

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Zen of Football-USA Today

Headline news in USA Today: "The Zen of Football"

Front page of the Sports Section- Rodgers: "Foreseeing is Believing".

In this article, Green Bay Packers Quarterback, Aaron Rodgers talks about the power of visualization. He credits his daily mental practice in helping the Packers reach the post season - and for pounding the Atlanta Falcons, the #1 seed, 48-21 last weekend.

Rodgers says he learned how to visualize from a coach, which he was in 6th grade. He also says most of the big plays he made in the upset victory over Atlanta, he pictured in his imagination first.

It’s amazing to me that this story is headline news in today’s world. You would think with all the information available on the power of your creative imagination that this would not be in the news. After all, how many great athletes don't visualize in one form or another. Some use self-hypnosis. Some visualize while lying down. Some while sitting. I even teach people to do it while standing still or moving.

No matter how you visualize though, it won’t work unless your practice creates what Dr. Maxwell Maltz called "The Winning Feeling."

Many people visualize but don’t feel anything. This is a red flag that something they are doing is wrong. Visualization without a change of emotion isn’t the proper use of your creative imagination.

I believe the more powerful approach to mind training is to change the feelings before you visualize. This can be accomplished thru deep breathing alone - or through stillness or through movements that integrate the breath.

E-motion stands for energy movement. It's great to sit or lie still and picture what you want. But it's much more effective to train your mind like a fighter who shadow boxes an imaginary foe.

Shadow boxing is just a term to describe a practice used by top salespeople, speakers, golfers as well as surgeons.

Don't just picture yourself doing the thing. Go through the motions as you picture it - and FEEL it.

Matt Furley