The savings crisis is not waving the little white flag anytime soon. Americans face a barrage of financial obstacles in today’s economy: stagnant wages, low interest rates, and a painful absence of financial literacy. The situation is so dire many Americans believe they won’t ever be able to leave the workforce. They survive paycheck to paycheck. However, all hope is not lost. One simple maneuver is helping millions of working Americans save for their futures.In a perfect world, parents and the education system would teach personal finance to every boy and girl. Our children would grow up being taught good savings habits, applying those lessons throughout life to improve their financial situations. Unfortunately, reality is quite different. Many parents are afraid to talk about money, and while some schools are now teaching personal finance, bureaucracy hinders a more national impact. As a result, we’re left with a country filled of financial illiterates — where nearly half of Americans save virtually nothing.What’s the solution? Make saving money the default decision. When faced with a choice on a seemingly complex subject such as money, many individuals often take the default or “no decision” choice. In the case of voluntary savings plans, which requires participants to take action in order to save money, the “no decision” choice is a decision not to save. 401(k) plans are the most popular example. One quarter of employees don’t even save enough to receive the employer match, missing out on $24 billion of practically free money every year. continue reading » 27SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr
However, the players in the bubble have made it well known that they are playing for more than just the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy. Players are motivated beyond their drive to win. They’re playing for justice. All of this has raised the following questions for some: Do we even need sports at all right now? Should successful athletes speak on pertinent issues unrelated to sports while on the court? Should we even mix sports and social justice initiatives together? It’s also hard to fathom why people think it’s okay to watch, bet on and root for Black athletes on the court but not support them as Black people off the court, as Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell said in a tweet in June. What I really want to say with this column, though, is that sports not only brings people together, but as we are witnessing perhaps most prominently with the NBA, sports can be used as a vehicle to spread awareness and support social justice initiatives. The main thing that the NBA Players Association wanted during negotiations on the NBA restart with regard to social justice was to have the players’ voices heard not for publicity reasons but because they knew that their high-profile stature will make fans listen to their words. Kneeling spreads awareness. Speaking out during press conferences — like Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart did in July — spreads awareness. Sending out tweets calling for change spreads awareness. One of my favorite things about sports is that it can always bring people together. The pandemic and social justice movement have revealed deep-rooted ideological differences in the public sphere. Our country has arguably become more divided than it has ever been before. Sports, on the other hand, is nonpartisan: You don’t have to belong to a certain political party to shoot some hoops or watch basketball. Team sports, especially, are all about communication, cooperation, teamwork and perseverance. Amid the chaos of 2020 — including the way-too-long sports shutdown — the NBA restart at Walt Disney World has been so exciting and fast-paced that each game feels like March Madness. Each team is playing with so much energy, it’s like their seasons were never even suspended in the first place. These comments cannot be more insular. Numbers don’t lie: Black men are 2.5 times as likely to be shot and killed by police than their white counterparts. The killings of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and most recently the shooting of Jacob Blake have reignited the Black Lives Matter movement that has been prioritized by the NBA and its players this season more than virtually any in the league’s history. So when athletes like James make such comments, they are making them from the perspective of a Black person in the United States, period. Wealth does not change one’s race. The argument that Black athletes are somehow immune to police brutality due to the size of their pockets is invalid. The answers: Yes, yes and yes. Since the beginning of the NBA restart, I’ve seen a lot of posts about players advocating for the Black Lives Matter movement on my Instagram feed. But within the comment sections of these posts, I’ve seen a lot more hate toward these athletes for speaking out against racial injustice. Many of these comments have to do with the notion that it doesn’t make sense for NBA players to say that they’re “scared as Black men” in this country — like LeBron James said Monday night — since they are high-profile, wealthy athletes, and that victims of police shootings “should have just complied” with the officers at the scene to avoid violence. “BLACK LIVES MATTER” is printed above center court each game and players have messages such as “Equality” and “Peace” written above their jersey numbers and on their sneakers. The subject of many postgame press conferences has been diverted away from basketball entirely and toward the pressing issue of racial injustice in this country. Although my New York Knicks are (unsurprisingly) not competing in the playoffs right now and I’m not rooting for any team in particular to be crowned this tumultuous season’s champion, I find it extremely important to hear what NBA players have to say about the recent shooting of Blake, who was shot in the back seven times by a police officer in Kenosha, Wis. in front of his own children. After all, they have the platform — and they have all the right in the world — to make a difference. Shawn Farhadian is a sophomore writing about sports. His column, “Dishing and Swishing,” runs every other Wednesday.