Over the past few months, a terrible case of GREED has hit the wide world of professional sports. First, a baseball strike canceled the World Series for the first time since 1904, and now a hockey lockout has delayed the start of the NHL season with no end in sight.
The strikes and lockouts are all about MONEY. In the baseball strike, the key issue was the salary cap, which is the most money a team can spend on its players. The players do not want this, because it could cost them money. I am sure Barry Bonds, who makes over $7 million a year or Bobby Bonilla, who makes $5 1/2 million a year, are in desperate need of more money.
To top it all off, in the NBA(National Basketball Association), the players want more money than some teams are worth.
For example, Orlando Magic guard Anfernee Hardaway, a second-year player, requested over $100 million in a long-term contract. He settled for $68 million over 10 years. Glenn Robinson wanted $100 million before he ever played an NBA game. My question is, what do all the players do with this amount of money?
Millions of dollars are being fought over in strikes and more millions are being handed out to the athletes whose sports are still actually being played. Can athletes play to their ability if money and contracts are in the back of their minds?
Athletes are role models to young fans. They should be teaching fans about teamwork, working hard, devotion to the team, and respect. Instead, they teach us about switching teams if the money being offered is not enough, about not working at all if you do not get enough money, and about not respecting teammates. This is a bad message for future athletes, professional or not.
Some athletes respond they must make their money now because, unlike other professions, they can only work into their thirties and early forties. I have two answers: one, if athletes got an education before they became professional athletes (or even during the off-season) they would have something to fall back on. Players nowadays skip college or leave college early to pursue their careers.
Bart Oates, a member of the San Francisco 49ers, is a prime example of an athlete who has a future. During the off-season, Bart earned a law degree, so that when he retires, he has a career. My second answer is, with so much money earned in the athlete's short career, s/he could retire after only a few years and have enough money for the rest of his or her life. If an average person makes $50,000 a year for thirty years, that person could have accumulated a total of one and a half million dollars. That same $1,500,000 is an average player's salary in just one season. Bobby Bonilla makes about $30,000 a GAME. Some people don't earn that in a year. Obvious-ly, salaries are out of control.
How does this affect the average fan? Well, if players like Anfernee Hardaway and Glenn Robinson get their way (and they always do), ticket prices will increase and so will hot dog prices and soda prices (that are already sky high).
What can fans expect for the future? What if athletes continue to make ridiculous amounts of money? In the year 2004, will we turn on the television to find a story on the first billion dollar salary? l
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.