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By Rashad Phillips

It’s football season. Visit a local barbershop or sports bar and you will find African-American men engaged in serious football related dialogue. These in-depth conversations cover ideal offensive strategy, defensive weaknesses, flawed general management decisions and executing in the red zone. Even after football season concludes, conversations continue regarding what will possibly occur next football season. Rarely does the conversation shift from football to finances. The guy who attempts to change the conversation from football to matters such as saving, investing and retirement planning is usually quickly ostracized because the guys want to talk only about football.

Businessmen or Sports Fans?
Based on our behavior (spending hours watching numerous sporting events, watching pre- and post-game shows, keeping up with sports statistics and engaging in deep sports-related discussions), we are treating football like serious business while treating our finances like a recreational hobby.

Here are the facts: African-Americans men represent 68 percent of NFL players and 78 percent of all NFL players file for bankruptcy within five years after retirement. African-American men represent 2 percent of the majority owners in all of the American professional sporting leagues. According to Nielsen’s report, “Resilient, Receptive, and Relevant,” African-American men are devoting six hours and 56 minutes per day to entertaining themselves watching mostly sports- related programming.

After watching an entire season of football, how do African-American men or the African-American community benefit financially from participating as overzealous fans? Is our obsession with football an escape from the serious financial, social and political issues facing our community?

There are young boys in middle and high school who need to be equipped with the skills to navigate the business world. These boys need to know how to balance a checkbook, the importance of their FICO score, the importance of saving and investing and what it takes to start a business. As a community, African-American men are failing to provide these future men with these skills because collectively we lack the skills. What we’ve been giving these young boys is our knowledge of football and that’s just not good enough.
More than 50 years ago, freedom fighters such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Huey P. Newton, Stokley Carmichael and a host of other men fought for African-American men to have economic opportunities. In 2015, can we say that we are honoring their legacy by sitting out of the business world and sitting in the stadium watching the games?

Dr. Dennis Kimbro, a respected African-American business educator and author, released data that indicates that African-Americans collectively are falling behind in every major economic indicator. In football terms, it’s halftime and we are down 21-0. We need to quickly re-group, re-focus and develop a game plan to get back in the game.

What are the Solutions?
First, we must acknowledge and accept that we live in a capitalist society. The most important game is capitalism and the objective of capitalism is to acquire control over natural resources and the labor force for economic gain. We must redirect all of the skill sets such as researching football statistics, offensive and defensive strategies and time management and apply those same skills to strengthening finances.

Here some tips:

Watch Less TV and Read More
Let’s reduce our consumption of sports-related entertainment by 50 percent. Use the additional time to increase financial awareness by reading books, attending seminars and watching financial videos.

Let’s Talk About Finances
Tap into the knowledge of the guys at the sports bar or sporting events. Before the game, allocate 30 minutes to an hour to discuss business news and to learn from each other, and gain knowledge of future business trends.

Create Business Opportunities
Capitalize on your passion for football or other sports by finding a way to create a business opportunity based on your understanding of the sport. For example, in addition to the youth summer football camps, why not add youth summer financial camps to the mix?

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