How much money does the average person really need to be able to eat three times a day, have a roof over their head, send their children to school and have a car? All this could be done on an income between $30,000 and $40,000 easily. But somehow it was decided that people who labor harder than most, city workers, janitors and factory workers, would be paid less than someone who sits behind a desk all day or someone who plays a game for a living.
Today athletes are the highest paid people in the country, with the exception of Donald Trump and his toupee. It is ridiculous to believe that someone is really worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and all they have to do is play a sport; a sport that millions of people would play for free if given the chance.
Major League Baseball may be responsible for the rising salaries of athletes. If all 30 teams’ salaries were combined, the total price tag of every big league player would be in excess of $2.02 billion. That translates to $67.6 million per team, and $2.7 million per player. There are currently 41 players in the majors who make more than $10 million per year. One of these 41 players, Alex Rodriguez is the highest paid athlete in the world; he makes $22 million a year. You think he can afford to get extra cheese on his Big Mac? Rodriguez and Boston Red Sox outfielder Manny Ramirez are the highest paid players in the MLB. Ramirez is a distance second with a modest $17.2 million a year. Could A-Rod really spend $22 million, honestly? I doubt it. Now how about getting paid $22 million every year for seven years, no one could ever spend that money EVER.
Where does all this money come from to pay these awesome athletes this kind of money? It comes from the fans. The same fans that cry when their team loses, celebrates when they win and pay $6 for a beer and $7 for a deluxe hot dog at their team’s game. Ticket prices continue to go up every year. How fair is it for the fans to drop at least $100 to go see a game and watch Ramirez jog to first base on a groundball or a pitcher not start a game because he is “under the weather?” If an average hard working person missed a couple days a month because they were sick or hurt, they would be fired. In the case of athletes, they go on a two week paid vacation, otherwise known as the 15-day disabled list.
Did anyone even notice that athletes, especially baseball players say “it’s not about the money?” If it is not about the money, then why do players like the NFL’s Clinton Portis and Ty Law threaten to skip training camp or demand to be traded because they do not like their contract? Law was recently quoted saying he wanted more than the $7 million he was guaranteed for the 2004-05 season because he “has to eat.” That much money could buy Law a small island in the Pacific Ocean.
Athletes have become so selfish these days they look past the best interest of the people around them. Some players refuse to take a pay cut to help out the team while others (ex-Celtic and current Knick Vin Baker) file a grievance with the NBA Players Union to get the $36 million his contract says he is owed. The same contract that says if he falls off the wagon again he does not get any of that money, but hey, why read the fine print?
The real problem is that athletes are seen as role models. They are not role models. They are people Nike and Gatorade slap on a poster and make kids want to be like. Even the most squeaky clean athlete has skeletons in his closet, Kobe Bryant (accused rapist), Jason Kidd (convicted spousal abuser), Baker (admitted alcoholic), Mo Vaughn (DUI arrest), Barry Bonds (alleged steroid abuser), and Jason Giambi (see Bonds’ accusation). By the way, all of these men have been the face on some advertising campaign at one time in their career and some kid somewhere has a poster of them in their room. Oh, and they all make $10 million plus dollars a year, what good role models.