How do you select the companies that participate in the conference?
We go to the athletes and ask them what is it that they are interested in investing in. We ask them whom are they interested in franchising, investing in or networking with and that’s who I go after. We also work with Emerald to bring in the different companies to help sustain the conference for the athletes.
How did bringing Emerald Franchise & Business Solutions, LLC on board bolster the conference?
At our last event in June, we had over 250 professional athletes. Our athletes go from NFL, MLB, WNBA, track & field, CFL… any pro sport that’s out there that’s willing to come out and be a part of the show, we will bring in. Now we have a Rolodex of over 866 pro athletes that, depending upon the franchise list, we can fly in. We fly in all of our athletes and put them up at the hotel, to have them sit down and take this opportunity to empower, educate the athlete and create an opportunity to further his or her career after sports.
Why do you feel franchising is a viable way to maintain a stream of income for these athletes and their families?
It’s not just franchising. We have wealth management companies and other businesses there that give them opportunities. We go with franchising because a lot of athletes venture out into franchising.
How can young athletes avoid the financial pitfalls that so many of their peers fall into?
The No. 1 thing is we cannot reach them all. It has to be implanted in them from college. When you come into the league you have to be a part of the rookie symposium, which [introduces] an athlete to what they are about to get into. At our event you have other athletes there to talk to them. Half are current athletes and half are retired athletes, so they can hear the stories about what can happen and what will happen because the NFL stands for “not for long.” We’re also starting a foundation for the retired athletes who will need long term care. Our quest is to have the current athletes to donate a percentage every year to the non-profit foundation to help the athletes who are in need.
In working with these athletes do you discover that this is something that plagues African-American players more so than players of other races?
I hate to stereotype it just towards our African-American men or African-American women but the majority who are not taking advantage just happen to be African-American. Not that it’s not happening to other races; you just don’t hear about it as much. There are so many athletes reaching out for help through the NFL that we don’t hear about and they don’t get the help. What we are trying to do is get the 82% [of athletes who are bankrupt two years after they retire] down to at least 65% by 2015 by taking advantage of the show and empowering and education these athletes to a bigger picture.
The next Pro Athletes Business Group show will be held the weekend of (February 19-20) in St. Petersburg, FL. For more information check out their website at www.proathletebusinessgroup.com.
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