The Athlete’s Future: Miami’s “Business Combine”

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In the fast-paced and ever changing business world, companies often overlook the well being of their product for the value and profitability that product brings to the table.  Professional sports are no different.  CEO’s and other high ranking officials are put in office in order to drive profitability and the stock of their organization, just as owners seek to drive the value and stock of their team.  This encompasses having high ranking athletes and coaches in order to compete at the highest level and bring value to their team.  The negative effect of professional sports being another industry, like the automotive or textile industry is that the individual players who make up the teams are not always put in positions to succeed in their lives during retirement.  Players are often looked at as means to achieve a goal, and are equally compensated due to the value that they bring to the organization, just as any employee of a company would.  The only difference is that these players have spent their entire amateur, collegiate and professional lives pursuing football and have usually not had the time or training in handling their finances or career outside of football.
Players that are given multi-million dollar contracts out of college do not usually come from a socio-economic background that includes wealth, so the idea of maintaining and growing that wealth outside of football is foreign to them.  As the Miami Dolphins’ owner states, “these guys have concentrated their college and their professional football careers into becoming better football players and have been kind of shielded a little bit from the business world”.  In an effort to help decrease the trend of over 16% of retired NFL players declaring for bankruptcy within 12 years out of the league, the Dolphins’ owner Stephen Ross after the 2015-16 season decided to try and help his players.  He met with his constituents and local business leaders in the Miami area and asked for them to spend a day in business meetings and seminars with his players in an effort to provide an opportunity for his players to learn the value of a life outside football and an effort to gain insight into what the business world is like.  Most recently after the 2016-17 season 16 players signed up for the “Business Combine”.  The payers ranged from starters like Ryan Tannehill and Cameron Wake to fringe players and free agents.

This article shows how one owner has publicly taken a stance on the ever-growing debate about the lives of professional athletes after college.  Hopefully, this trend and nation wide media attention that has been gained will cause other owners and professional sporting entities to begin to set aside time, effort and groups that are put in place to further the lives of NFL players after they have moved on from the league.  Reading this article, I loved the message behind it and the idea that wealthy teams are actually taking the time to care about their players, but as a Division One lacrosse player it is hard to relate to the life and financial situation of a NFL player.  What does this article mean to me?

The idea of a “Business Combine” means to me that in life and my athletic career, I need to be willing to take some time and effort into thinking past sports, into the rest of my life.  During the recruiting process, athletes are often told how this is the one time in your life where you are allowed to be completely selfish, and I think that is true.  Athletes at all levels choose to play for teams, colleges and for coaches who they believe will put them in a position to grow as an athlete, person and win at the highest level.  I think it should be a focus for athletes that when they are choosing teams to think about the relationships they are going to have with those teammates and coaches when their career is done with.  This idea can be taken in many different ways, but the main point to be made from this article is that while NFL players are being allowed the opportunity to learn how to succeed after the NFL, college athletes too need to constantly think about the direction their lives are headed, and take responsibility for helping to determine the success they are going to have in life after their sport.

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