by Dr. Boyce Watkins
Ex-NFL superstar Warren Sapp has fallen upon hard times lately. The former Miami Hurricane great is finding that child support is not as much fun as making babies, and is now begging the courts to give him a reduction in the 2,500 per month he’s paying one of the many women with whom he has fathered a child.
According to TMZ, Sapp filed paperwork requesting that his support obligations to Angela Sanders be dropped from the existing obligation of $2,500 per month, which should be chump change for a player who once signed a 7-year, $36.6 million dollar contract with the Oakland Raiders. For the record, that means that he earned over $14,000 a day, or about $429,000 per month, making $2,500 seem pale in comparison.
Obviously, Sanders is a little bit irritated by Sapp’s request, since she made an agreement back in 2000 that the support would not be modified based on changes in income. At the time, she could have easily demanded as much as $10,000 per month, but instead took a modest amount that probably made her look stupid to her friends. So, the woman doesn’t appear to be anyone’s gold digger, and some would say that a millionaire should be paying far more to take care of his children.
Years later, after filing for bankruptcy protection and blowing all of his money on all kinds of stupid stuff, including 240 pairs of rare Air Jordans, Sapp is now whining to the courts for sympathy, even though they may end up putting his butt in jail. Not only does Sapp owe big money to Sanders, but he’s got four other mothers standing line, hands on their hips, wondering why the checks stopped coming in.
As a Finance Professor, I often cringe when I see how young brothers allow their arrogance to lead them to make horrible life decisions that leave them destitute, depressed, marginalized and possibly incarcerated. You’re the big man on campus when you’re catching passes on TV and hip hop music teaches you that “a real n*gga gotta keep his hoes in check.” So, you’re running through women like Black Friday sales at Walmart, always forgetting that chickens (and baby mamas) always come home to roost.
Years later, when the financial party is over and none of the teams are blowing up your phone the way they used to, you find yourself with little education, no good investments, and a long list of creditors, dependents and “ignant” financial obligations. That’s when the hero has turned into a zero, and you get to spend the next 40 years paying the price for a series of unintelligent and exceedingly arrogant decisions (there were surely many people who tried to give Sapp good advice along the way, but dollar bills up to your ears can make you hard of hearing).
A full 78% of professional athletes end up going broke, much of this due to inadequate financial education and poor family planning. The NFL’s financial responsibility seminars aren’t doing the job, and these men who threw away all of their educational opportunities for the chance to risk permanent brain damage often find that a) there are easier ways to make money than this, and b) an uneducated man and his money will usually part ways.
I’m not here to beat up on Warren Sapp, for I wish him well. Instead, I’d rather encourage all of us to see the life of Warren Sapp as a living, breathing text book on how to engage in good life management. Here are a couple of things we can learn from this latest episode of the Maury Povich Show for Negroes:
1) No matter what you do, always get a good education: Athletes, I hate to say it, are used up and distributed like cattle. The athlete is almost never as well off as his Harvard-educated attorney, and it’s shameful that so many black men are taught that the false lottery ticket of sports is their only way to financial security. Remaining uneducated only opens the door for a smart person to steal all your money while you’re at the club gulping bottles of Patron and creating baby mamas with 2Chainz playing in the background. All such forms of coonery should be outlawed all violators should be slapped on sight.
2) Be thoughtful about where you spread your seed: The rule of thumb for the thoughtless, perpetually aroused young male is this: “If she looks good, and she offers, then I’m gonna hit that.” But we often forget that irresponsibility in the bedroom can lead to enough STDs to turn you into a walking CDC alert, and also lead you to be strapped onto a person you barely know or care about for the next 18 years. Be smart about your choices when it comes to the opposite gender, for these choices play a tremendous role in shaping the trajectory of your life.
It’s time to change the paradigm of the black athlete in America instead of repeating the same old story. By educating ourselves and each other, we can create progress instead of going backward. While the stories about men like Warren Sapp are blasted all over the media, we should also consider the stories of brilliant men like Allan Houston (former NY Knick) and Etan Thomas (Washington Wizards), who not only made sound financial decisions, but are also extraordinary role models, very well-educated and outstanding family men. I am moderating a panel on fatherhood at Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem with both men on December 6th of this year and I swell up with pride when I see black male athletes using their powerful platforms to do something other than to serve as a puppet for corporate America: The black community is suffering, with the black male at risk of extinction – we need our best, brightest and baddest to lend their voices to the people they love.
The life you live tomorrow is created by the choices you make today. Learning from the good and bad decisions of those who came before you is critical to your survival. But living the fast life without proper planning is like driving 100 miles per hour while wearing a blind fold: The crash is both painful and inevitable.