WHO ARE WE
The Just One Project is an IRS 501C3 organization that was created as a vehicle to raise funds for existing projects as well as to develop and deliver a Student Athlete Financial Education Program for students ranging from Middle School through High school and College, and into the Professional levels. Our hope is that the program can continue to provide education that will further continue to reach out to any transitioning athlete regardless of their professional or nonprofessional status.
Historically the Leagues and the Players Unions have made small efforts to reverse the trend and to teach the young athletes how to be wary of theft and that they should watch their money. These include Rookie Symposiums and having outside speakers on topics of investments and taxes. Furthermore by the time the player has become a “rookie” and received his first contract, any hope to change the mindset of a 20 year old millionaire is gone.
The public opinion is both sympathetic and unsympathetic about these “Rich Spoiled Athletes”. However there continues to be rampant fraud in relation to athletes and their money. In 2015, two Scottsdale “con men” cheated several NHL players out of 15 million dollars. Oddly enough, the same advisor was accused and lost a case of financial fraud in 2008.
Professional athletes often fall victim to unscrupulous financial advisors that take advantage of players’ trust and inexperience in financial matters. Athletes need to be surrounded by trustworthy advisors who will protect their assets, put their interests ahead of the advisor’s interests, keep them away from the wolves, and work with them to create a long-term plan to secure their futures. Athletes need to invest for safety because they generally have short playing careers and a difficult time earning substantial income after playing sports. They therefore need to preserve their assets and invest conservatively in order to support themselves for the rest of their lives.
There are a myriad of dangers that await the young pro who is about to receive his first big paycheck. Even the most mundane decisions athletes make in the “limbo” period between their last game as a collegiate athlete and their first as a pro can torpedo a lifetime of hard work and good intentions.
The questions that are at the forefront of the public eye are:
- “Why does this continue to happen?”
- “What is being done to correct the situation?”
- And “why should we care?”
For most student athlete it begins with a goal of pretending be that famous ball player that hits the home run, scores the winning touchdown, makes the buzzer shot or scores the goal in the last second of overtime.
For some that dream forms into a reality as scouts and parents start to recruit children as young as 12 and 13 who are still middle school.
Psychologically, these kids are told that they will be the next Michael Jordan, Derek Jeeter, Payton Manning or Wayne Gretzky. Most of the time that dream fails and what is left is a child who has no clue what to do with the rest of his life.
There are three stages in the life of any athlete
Currently the focus on education and preparation for life after sport is done during stage 2, in the middle of their careers while in College or during their life as a Pro.
However for the 99.9% of those student athletes that dream of a professional life, that education never comes and they are left without the support and resources necessary.
The Just One Program was named for something that was taught to me as a summer camp counselor. My camp director said to us, “We have approximately 300 children come through this camp each summer, you cannot change in 3 weeks what it has taken society 13 years to mess up, so If you affect the life of one child this summer, you have done your job”.