For some reason, we the people, have given sports the power to play by their own rules now, effectively letting people and/or organizations to decided the price they are willing to pay for victory.
That price appears to just keep climbing, and I’m not talking just dollar signs.
But, that’s a good place to start and the root of the problem in my eyes.
According to a Forbes article earlier in the year, Kobe Bryant currently sits as the highest grossing NBA player. His yearly salary, not including endorsements, tops out at a little over $25 million a year. If you add in all his endorsements, he rakes in a hair over $53 million per year.
USATODAY.com named Alex Rodriguez the highest paid baseball player at $30 million a year just off his Yankees salary, tack on another $4 million if you want to count endorsements.
Peyton Manning tops the NFL money list at nearly $42.5 million a year, according to a another Forbes report.
Alright everyone, let’s pull out the calculators.
These three men’s combined yearly income exceeds $129 million a year.
That would buy two full Boeing 737s and have change left over to make a down payment on a third.
Or, it could pay a year’s salary for 4,031 and a quarter sergeants with six years experience, according to goarmy.com.
That sum would also be able to pay the President of the United States for the next 286 years with his expense account factored it.
I’m not saying we have a problem, but I might just be beating around the bush about it.
I know what you’re out there saying. “But, Reece those are the highest paid professionals. Not everyone makes that much money.”
That’s exactly right.
The 2012 NFL league minimum per the new Collective Bargaining Agreement states that a rookie must be paid at least $390,000. In the MLB its $480,000 and a NBA rookie can expect to make at least $490,000 plus change.
Imagine if you will handing a 20-year-old relative, with little to no college education and no real world experience, $100k. What’s the best case scenario? What’s the reality? They’re young, they have time to kill and they have all the capital they need to do whatever they think they want.
Is it a wonder that 30 professional football players were arrested this off-season?
We, as a sports industry, build up young athletes, put them on the fast lane to fame and riches, then stand back and shake our heads when it all goes wrong.
And, I know the arguments. “Professional athletes don’t have very long careers. They risk career ending injury every time they take the field/court. etc...”
In a press conference last year, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell stated that the average career length for a professional football player is six years. Businessweek.com wrote that the average NFL player makes a shade under $2 million a season. So, for argument’s sake let’s say $10 million over six years.
The national average United States household income comes in at $50,233 according to the 2006 census. Meaning, an average American household would have to work a little over 199 years to make what an NFL player averages over their career.
Personally, I think those professional athletes could find someway to struggle on after their careers end.
The old adage states that money is the root of all evil, and in our “Sportsnation” those might just be the truest words.
It trickles down to the lowest rungs of the sports ladder. It permeates the entire nature of sports in general in America. “Spygate” begets the 2011 University of Miami scandal, which in turn leads to things like recruiting violations at the high school level.
Coaches, officials and players cashing in their character for a shot at that all important win.
In the recent firestorm around Penn State, we saw just what a program was willing to do to cover up heartbreaking tragedy all in the name of wins and legacy.
I find it slightly ironic that the NCAA slapped the university so hard for not “putting the children first,” when all they do is grow fat on the exploited backs of college athletes (who sell all tickets, get all air time and make all the sacrifices on the field for a chance at their own slice of the pie) by ensuring that those students don’t see a dime of the revenue generated by the programs.
At the pro level, how many football players have crawled out of the woodwork now talking about the negative effect of head injuries? Why did they make those personal sacrifices? Was it for the love of the game, or for that seven figure check waiting for them?
According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, 144,218 head injuries were treated by U.S. hospital emergency rooms in 2009 that were a direct result from football, baseball, softball, basketball and soccer.
I know, I’ve been there. It wasn’t so long ago that I donned my Wildcat colors and took the football field. I lied about injuries to keep playing, because winning was important.
Now, this isn’t an indictment of sports in general, but more of a piece that is meant to cause people to take a step back and assess where their values are.
I love sports. They pay my bills. They entertain us. Life would be a little emptier without them.
Yet, how many times have you seen fans sacrifice their dignity at a game? Watched them scream things at players, coaches or officials that you wouldn’t tell your worst enemy, even at the high school level?
There is a price to playing. It’s something every athlete has to pay, but it’s nothing compared to the price some are willing to pay to win.
Hard work and determination are the principal currencies for winning, but when the price starts to be paid by giving away integrity and character, is the end result really a win?