Elite athletes, from the time their special abilities become apparent, are lionized. As they move from high school to college, the benefits grow.
And if they hit it big in the professional ranks, the money can be almost too much to comprehend. A sense of entitlement can set in for some. Sometimes (like Denny McLain or Mike Tyson) the money is frittered away on material goods, bad investments or even on creating charitable foundations that don’t work out as they were intended. From the WNBA to the NFL, players often have trouble dealing with riches.
Then there are the average athletes. Sure, they make a lot more money than their peers at the same age, but their careers end all too soon and the money is turned off.
(Check out 8 of the Worst Financial Meltdowns by Athletes on ThinkAdvisor.)
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And after their athletic careers are over, there are years to wait before retirement benefits kick in. That got ThinkAdvisor to wondering just what sort of retirement plans are in place for the various U.S. professional sports leagues.
We found great variation in the benefits paid as well how quickly a former athlete can qualify. Check out 7 Best & Worst Retirement Plans in Pro Sports, listed from the least benefits to the most:
7. PGA Tour
Plan Type: Incentive based
Professional golf is an individual sport and that doesn’t change when it comes to a retirement plan. Money is deposited in retirement accounts based on how well golfers do in tournaments. For those who play fewer than 15 events a year, money can be withdrawn beginning at age 50. Those who play 15 or more events on the Champions Tour must wait until they are 60.
6. Major League Soccer
Plan Type: 401(k)
The plan, which is voluntary on the part of athletes, includes player contributions up to the IRS limit of $17,000 per year. Team contributions are capped by law at $50,000 per year and equal 3.5%. Salaries range from about $35,000 to more than $4 million.
Plan Type: 401(k)