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Warren Sapp seeks fresh start through Chapter 7 bankruptcy

Chicago residents and football fans will surely remember Warren Sapp, who played for many years in the NFL and is currently working as a television analyst on the NFL Network. Like a number of athletes, Sapp has encountered financial difficulty, and reports indicate that he has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Many professional athletes who reach the top leagues in their respective sports earn much more per year than the average American. This is true even of the players who are lightly compensated compared to their superstar teammates. Although the window in which they have to earn those above average salaries is small compared to other professions, studies show a disconcerting number of athletes encounter financial challenges soon after their playing careers are over. Research by Sports Illustrated indicates that approximately two-thirds of all NBA players and three-quarters of NFL players seek bankruptcy protection a mere two years after they stop playing.

The financial fate of many professional athletes can provide a lesson to everybody else. In Sapp's case, for example, records indicate that his assets total $6.45 million, while his debts amount to $6.7 million. While many may find little in common with those who have millions in assets, Sapp's situation is in some ways an extrapolation of the average person's financial dilemma.

After the burst of the housing bubble and the subsequent rise in unemployment, some people have liabilities that exceed their assets. They have faced rising levels of debt and may have been pressured by creditors. For some of those individuals, bankruptcy can be an option that discharges debt and provides a financial fresh start.

Source: The Washington Post, "Warren Sapp: The latest multimillionaire athlete to file for bankruptcy," Matt Brooks, April 9, 2012.

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