Football camp not the best path towards big bucks

David MoonBlog

Thousands of youngsters across the US are attending football camps this month, many because their parents believe that proper instruction at a young age could lead to college scholarship offers, the NFL and vast riches.

If a parent’s goal is to begin training a future millionaire (a questionable goal, at best,) football camp is the wrong place to be. His kid should be in biosciences or business camp, not quarterback or kicker camp.

Last year’s 32 opening-day NFL rosters listed 80 quarterbacks, with an average salary of $1.9 million. That’s a bunch of money, but it’s less than what the CEO of lowly Radio Shack was paid.

The companies in the S&P 500 paid their CEOs an average of $12 million last year. Another 500 CFOs earned an average $3.3 million each. And remember: sales people within many organizations earn more than their bosses.

Oracle’s CEO Larry Ellison made $78 million last year, more than the $58 million Peyton Manning is guaranteed to earn during the entire five years of his current contract.

The S&P 500 CEO-to-worker pay ratio is now 333-to-1, significantly higher than the long-term average prior to 1990.

My advice to young people: you can take offense to that, or you can take advantage of it.

Admittedly, that is cold and selfish. But it is also crudely true. If the goal of a young person or his dad is to be rich one day, the child is much more likely to get there through a board room than a locker room.

Surprisingly, however, income mobility in the US is lower than in most of Europe; it is also lower than most Americans think it is. We tend to think people in this country move between income groups more fluidly than they actually do.

The income inequality in the US is both growing and disturbing. But inherent in the existence of increasing income inequality is some good news: a person’s income can change.

If the rich can become richer, is there something they do that causes it, and can those same techniques be used by people who aren’t rich to become less not rich?

After all, isn’t that what we’re doing when we send our sons to the Cutcliffe Quarterback College? We are trying to model the outcome of someone who has accomplished a thing we’ve decided is desirable.

The irony is that high-dollar corporate executives—especially those with Ivy League type degrees—are often described as winners of a DNA lottery. In reality, the core qualities necessary to be a pro athlete are much more likely to be acquired at birth. It is much easier to learn to be a great executive than it is to learn to be quick and violent.

Even those who do become pro athletes aren’t guaranteed financial success. Sports Illustrated estimated in 2009 that 78 percent of former NFL players eventually declare bankruptcy.

If you’re trying to affect his future economics, go out in the front yard and toss football with your 12-year-old son—after he gets home from business camp.