By Clifton RossSPORTSMEN and women worldwide are usually considered royalty and it’s reflected in their most often lavish lifestyles, but remnants of COVID-19 could slowly reverse the way athletes live.It’s no hidden secret that most of the world’s top athletes from basketball, America football, soccer and good old fashion baseball, generate billions of dollars of income for its athletes.For instance, NBA stars are treated as hip-hop royalty as that niche of music is often intertwined, as players and artists coexist in their respective worlds. The ballers and most of the world’s top soccer stars have since taken on a ‘rap-like’ persona, having spent their millions on palatial homes, luxury automobiles while maintaining a high-end way of living.In boxing, Floyd Mayweather’s moniker is ‘Money’ a true testament to the vast wealth the world champ has punched his way to over the years.While the international list of millionaire athletes and sports figures is lengthy, the effect has trickled down to the Caribbean as a number of the region’s top international and even domestic cricketers, in particular, have managed to do extremely well for themselves over the last two years.One of the main contributors of wealth over the past six years is undoubtedly the introduction of the Professional Cricket League (PCL). The professional system has now created a reservoir which serves as the financial core for the players who are paid thousands of US dollars to train and stay fit.Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli with one of his exquisite Audi sports carsWith the salaries for regional cricket much higher these days than it was back then, most stars have managed to secure stints either with the international Windies team or other lucrative T20 franchises around the world; which has made them millionaires.Another key piece of history with regard to cricketers taking on a rock-star like persona these days is T20 cricket. Back when jailed billionaire Alan Stanford tossed millions of cash around the Caribbean making players rich for life, the trend continued long after the scrapping of the multi-million-dollar branded Stanford T20 Tournament.Now with leagues like the Indian Premier League (IPL), which modified Stanford’s tournament into an international billion-dollar cash machine, which is responsible for making 70 percent of the world’s cricketers either millionaires right off the bat or continuing to make big bucks as the tournament grows every year.The CPL in particular has done wonders for a number of the region’s and Guyana’s top stars. The wealth acquired has turned a number of local players into overnight millionaires and as such our ambassadors can afford to look the part.But the dark side could be revealed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as a number of big leagues and associations regionally and globally have been keeping one eye on bankruptcy/financial recessions. With the financer’s means of income also in jeopardy due to the virus, athletes could be forced to take their spending down a notch. Although some sportsmen and sportswomen might be covered for the remainder of 2020, should the virus persist, much could change fiscally for not just athletes but the average Joe.Limited live sports, little or no fans present at facilities due to restrictions and with no strong television platforms within the Caribbean; the result may lead to smaller future contracts for some athletes.Also with less endorsements, sponsors and few financial investors to go around due to the current financial flow, cricketers and other well-paid sports figures will certainly need to brace themselves for a bumpy ride.Nevertheless, it is utterly crucial for all athletes to now use the wealth and reach to create a system where they can still earn should COVID-19 alter the normal way of living, going forward.