The crazy money ath sletes make long has been a sore spot with fans. Now it feels more like an open wound.
The economy stinks. A culture of greed has come back to bite us. And nobody does greed like jocks, right?
We’ve seen that jocks aren’t any worse than Wall Street CEOs, bankers or politicians thirsting for power.
If anything, the economic meltdown proves an unpopular point.
Unlike the corporate players and congressmen, real players are often worth the money.
Some are even grossly underpaid.
Meet Grady Sizemore. Cleveland’s center fielder will pull down a mere $3.1 million this year.
How can a guy making 60 times the U.S. median income be getting gypped?
When his industry made $6 billion last year.
That’s less than half what Merrill Lynch lost in the fourth quarter of 2008. Then its executives gave themselves $4 billion in bonuses.
And they didn’t win a Gold Glove among them.
Sizemore did. He also hit 33 homers and stole 38 bases. And he did it all for that $3,166,166.
I’ll pause now to let you think how many doctors that would pay for. (It’s 18.6 based on average salaries.) To understand why Sizemore is a bargain, you have to accept two painful truths.
A job’s value to mankind has nothing to do with its market value.
And the crazy money wouldn’t be there if consumers weren’t providing it.
That won’t make you feel any better this morning if you’re standing in an unemployment line.
But it’s not Sizemore’s fault that he has a skill you don’t, or that society has a fascination with his specialty.
Oh, sports leagues are feeling the pinch.
There have been front-office layoffs, and poor Manny Ramirez can’t find a team willing to pay him $75 million for three years.
If things really tank, we might even see teams fold. But the passion of the sports fan is not going to die. And passion means dollars.
Even if baseball revenue dropped 50 percent this year, it would still make $3 billion. Who deserves that money more, George Steinbrenner or CC Sabathia?
I know what you’re saying — neither!
It should go to teachers and laid-off auto workers and U.S. senators who scrape by on $170,000 a year.
As much as we’d like to take Steinbrenner’s payroll and give it to the NYPD, it doesn’t work that way.
If the Yankees or Lakers or Bucs disappeared tomorrow, that money wouldn’t hire one more cop.
It wouldn’t exist because fans won’t pay to see nothing.
It’s not just sports fans. Why did Will Smith make $80 million last year?
Because his films routinely make more than $100 million. No Smith, no box office.
If people want salaries to drop, all they have to do is stop buying tickets, jerseys, cable TV packages and autographed jock straps.
Even in hard times, there is still a pile of money out there.
You can’t blame the performers for wanting more.