Athletics in this country are bigger than ever. Today, more people are attending sporting events than ever before. Sports have a truly unique ability; they bring people of all races, genders, and social classes together forming one common bond, the well-being of the home team. For all the good sports bring, however, a growing majority of fans are becoming more and more disenchanted with the high priced industry.
America whines while these athletes sign multi-million dollar contracts, moans when they get in trouble with the law and points fingers when the athletes do not live up to the standard of “role model.” Yet these fans that whine, moan, and point fingers are the same ones that pay hundreds of dollars to see these athletes play. They are the same ones that berate the justice system if an athlete is ever convicted, and they are the same ones that buy the shoes and other products endorsed by an athlete who claims to be anything but a “role model.” Society needs to reprioritize. Doctors, teachers, law enforcement officers, professors, judges, and nurses deserve to be getting all of the media exposure and endorsement money.
Sports should be regarded as originally intended: strictly as a form of entertainment. These days, while it is considered entertainment, it is actually much more serious than that. Sports are productive – to a certain extent. When people cross the fine line between fan and fanatic, that’s when sports are brought into a new dimension. That’s also when the business side of this entertainment approaches the spotlight.
Sports are not worth it. It’s just a game. It’s good to get out there and have something to support, but don’t make it a larger than life situation. Athletes should be working-class Americans with working-class lives. They have their comparative advantages, and they have found their niche in life. But I am not disputing the fact that every man needs to make a living. I am disputing the fact that these athletes are making more than what they are worth, based on a true value-to-society scale.
The biggest problem I have with the high salaries of athletes is that it has taken the competitiveness out of sports such as baseball, which does not have a salary cap. In Major League Baseball there are big market teams and there are small market teams. The problem in baseball is that all the good players who become free agents go to the big market teams. No player wants to play in a small market there is no marketability for his skills there and even if he did the small market team wouldn’t have the money to sign him anyway. Small market teams routinely have to develop their talent in their minor league system. However, these teams then don’t have the money to sign them and then lose him to a large market team. The teams with the money can sign the big names. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that if this continues and Major League Baseball doesn’t do something about this the sport will lose its competitiveness and this will further drive the fan away from the game. The small market team will never be able to compete with the big market if something is not done.
These high priced contracts also drive up the ticket prices and concession prices which further outrages the fan. The common man taking his family to the ballpark no longer exists. These days it takes an arm and a leg just to buy a bleacher ticket and a meal from the concession. These days sports are truly a rich mans game all the way around. What the fan doesn’t realize is that the high priced contracts are not the only thing that drives up ticket prices. High stadium leases drive up prices as well, it is like a common business if you have to pay a high rent then chances are the prices of your stores merchandise will be high to make up for that. In fact high stadium leases as well loss of revenue have cost some sports franchise to relocate. This has become a big problem recently in sports due to the fact that more and teams are moving. For example in the National Football League in the past three years, the Browns have moved out of Cleveland to become the Baltimore Ravens and the Raiders and Rams have both moved out of Los Angeles to Oakland and Saint Louis. The latter has become a huge problem do to the fact that it has left the National Football League without a team in one of televisions largest markets. Television plays a huge part in the big money contracts of today. You may be asking yourself how well the National Football League, Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association and National Hockey League all have television contracts with the major networks for billions of dollars. With this extra money floating around the teams can sign players to bigger contracts. The athlete is just getting his piece of the pie and how can anyone in their right mind fight them, because you would have to be an idiot not to take all that money if it was shoved in your face. No one seems to have a problem with big company CEO’s such as Disney’s Michael Eisner pulling down hundreds of millions of dollars a year but yet they fought the athlete for doing basically the same thing.
Another problem I see developing in sports is that there is no loyalty in sports anymore. Fewer players are playing their whole careers with the team they originated with, instead players are jumping ship as soon as there contract is up to teams with more money. In essence the phrase “show me the money” epitomizes sports these days. The athlete doesn’t care about loyalty to his team he cares about putting money in the bank. These days it is almost like a contest to see who can make the most money.
The fact remains that athletes deserve the money and the praise if society is willing to reward them for their services. When people complain about “overpaid, selfish crybabies,” they are inevitably referring to professional athletes. But if owners are willing to give them these outrageous contracts, why shouldn’t they take the money and smile?
The players deserve the money more than the owners do. The players are not at fault for being the beneficiaries of the fans’ misguided spending. Fans who complain about the salaries and the behavior of the players should not support them. Fans, who write letters to newspapers, send e-mails to teams, and call front offices should not waste their time with such antics. They should actually do something to catch the attention of those involved in the business formerly known as sports. Don’t attend the games if you are going to complain.
Yes, athletes are coddled. That is only because of the average fan’s willingness to allow this to happen. The fan who spends $50 for a ticket in the nosebleed section is as guilty as the owners are for letting salaries escalate to the point where there are. So while America whines about the lofty salaries and the questionable actions of these stars, we still continue to pay the absurd ticket prices that the owners demand. Consequently, this elevates the salaries that players receive.
Athletes are not the ones to blame. For those looking for a scapegoat, there is only one place to look – a mirror.
1.”ESPN.com: Dodgers’ gain is Padres’ pain.” ESPN Sportszone, 12 Dec. 1998.