As we lead into major sporting events such as The Super Bowl and NBA All Star Weekend I can only think of the many pressures facing these athletes that have nothing to do with the actual games as they are thrust into the national spotlight. It's become the acceptable "norm" to see young, Black athletes make it big in professional sports with multi-million dollar contracts. Subsequently, the first ones to initially benefit are their immediate family members, such as the mother and/or father, who were encouraging the athlete from the onset. Unfortunately, after the contract is signed, many athletes are not prepared to face the leaches who see us as their unlimited personal ATM, which seems to devalue the athlete as a human being while inflating the real significance as to why this person is a pivotal point of the family structure.
My goal here is not to slander or diminish the love and admiration that black families provide for the new breadwinner in their family, but to enlighten you of the many unmentioned pressures that professional minorities face once fame and fortune are reached, from a first hand experience. Many responsibilities, duties and obligations come with the price of "celebrity". Unfortunately they are not all pleasing and you often lose your own true focus. As in any family structure whereby one is the primary breadwinner, one must face unexpected challenges. However, I feel that by growing up in a low-income family and suddenly being afforded the opportunity to change one's standard of living -- and that of everyone in your household -- it requires much needed life lessons. An important one is understanding money, and how it should actually work for you rather than against you in the form of family-member dependency.
"More Money More Problems" has become much more than just a great song, especially for me, it became my reality. Coming from a religious and God-fearing family, I was raised to put God first, family second, followed by your career, and if you found love that was icing on the cake that even included learning to love yourself. Once the money comes it is increasingly difficult to put anything in front of our success, which is typically based on the amount of money we earn. Thus, we tend to put money first. This isn't because we don't fear God or love our family, but everything around us has a monetary base, which proves that money is indeed the root of all evil.
Most minority professional athletes are extremely family oriented, but money has a way of tearing the essence of family apart. We feel that family should love whether we financially support them or not, but many family members and friends see it completely differently. Their view is if we loved them we would financially support them. Out of a few hundred phone calls a week, only a half dozen of those calls are concerns of our well-being or just everyday conversation, the remaining are all about money.
This subconscious activity from our family members and friends has an emotional and physical drain on us. We live as the breadwinners of generations consisting of many different lifestyles and wants that we as loving nephews, aunts, sons, grandsons, siblings and cousins feel we have the obligation of granting. This is not to suggest that we should not help the unfortunate, but there needs to be an understanding of what's appropriate and what isn't.
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