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From Fame Comes Money

From Fame Comes Money

Limits exist everywhere. Parents learn the amount of sugar-packed candy their child can eat before he or she begins to act irrationally bonkers. Cars and gas pumps somehow join minds to halt the flow of petrol because the volume of the gas tank is just so large. Humans can survive for about eight weeks without food, if water continues to be consumed. Without water or food, one will probably live for three to five days, all because our body has a limit of how long it can last without those means which provide vitamins and minerals. Turkeys, cookies, pheasant (later to be put under glass) all have a recommended cook time; once the oven is forgotten about though, they all burn. The suggested time for cooking to perfection happens and passes. Children have allowances that their parents provide them with. Part-time workers depend on having generous employers, otherwise minimum wage becomes their best friend and that is only because the government finally took pity on exploited workers. Full-time employees must succumb to living on the salary presented to them, rare to change much during their career.

But why do professional athletes have the ability to decide the limit of their earnings? What levitates them above society and provides them with the right to hold out on accepting an offer until they get that extra million dollars added to their contract? What characteristics do they all possess that qualifies them to have endorsement requests thrown at them from all directions?

Simple. National fame.

What made Tiger Woods so famous, pre-exposure of his illicit affairs? His great playing abilities on the golf course, outscoring many men who have played longer than he has lived. How did Michael Vick become so famous, pre-exposure of his dog fighting? For being a great quarterback and performing a record breaking game November 15, 2010 being the first player in NFL history to have more than 300 yards passing, fifty yards rushing, four passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns (“Michael…”).

And they deserve recognition for these accomplishments. Breaking records takes talent and hard work, dedication and perseverance. I admire them. I just wonder if that certifies them to earn the amount of money they do. Tiger Woods makes an estimated “$100 million dollars annually” (“Tiger…”). According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the United States Department of Labor, in 2008 the average high school teacher earned between $47,100 and $51,180. Do the math. Tiger Woods made 2000 times more than a teacher did, yet how has he helped improve society as a whole? The average high school teacher educates more than a hundred students a year, increasing their abilities in math, science, English, and much more. They mold the minds that are the future of our country. Yet, they do not receive the acknowledgment of pro athletes. They do not by any means.

One can argue that happens because the work force quota for teachers exponentially exceeds that of professional athletes. I believe it results from exposure. Professional athletes perform on national television, for national sports teams, and have, in addition to others’, Fortune500 companies’ endorsements. And due to the vast majority of Americans who entertain themselves with watching television, and more specifically professional sports, these teams, players, and business influence society.

In all honesty, professional sports pertain to no higher reason that allows them enhanced civilization. I’m not trying to bash sports; in my life I found great delight in them. With participation in sports, new friends, self confidence, and joy grow and thrive. Who hasn’t scored that one goal, sunk that one shot and then jumped around in joy, high-fiving other teammates in triumph? Besides feelings of self-accomplishment and happiness among friends, sports really have no purpose. It isn’t like the Mayan times when the losers of the sports were offered up for sacrifice. Sports have a monetary value attached to them now because someone put two and two together, realizing the demand to view sports would not change much if one introduced a price. Spectators seemed willing to pay to view.
Now, spectators seem willing to pay to view and for merchandise because of love of the sport and love of the players.

Fans spend outrageous amounts of money to see their favorite sport live. By 1993, sports enthusiasts spent an estimated “$4.2 billion on tickets to sporting events of all types each year” (Weiss 139). 18 years ago, $4.2 billion dollars flowed through the hands of the sports industry due to tickets alone. CNN Money’s article “Super Bowl tickets…” says that Dallas Cowboy’s stadium has a maximum capacity of 110,000 people and the average Super Bowl XLV ticket sold for about $5,000 resale, face value from $600-$1,200. In one event in 2011, about $550 million was spent in tickets alone, 13% of the 1993 total ticket sale amount. How ridiculous to pay $4,000 above the face value to watch a game that can be seen in almost any bar, on personal flat screen televisions at home too! But there exist dedicated fans that will shed that kind of money for a sporting event. Sometimes fans don’t leave the comfort of their home to see games. Cable companies offer channels now that play a specific sport all day long. My father understands the pleasure of viewing a golf tournament or show at his leisure, as do many others. The trick sneaks in by forcing the contracted homeowners to purchase the package deal which includes the specific sport channel, something they willingly comply with to satisfy their need for the sport. What happened to the excitement of Monday night finally coming around so that the much-anticipated big game could be seen? Cable companies further tarnished the integrity of gathering for the big game with the introduction of TiVo and other recording capabilities. Record now, watch later. You can’t conform and watch the show or game at the pre-set time? Here, let’s make it convenient for you, so you can watch it when you want, as you want, and as often as you wish. No longer do events happen once, but rather as often as a person wishes to relive it. It seems the expression, “everything in moderation,” has been thrown out the window.

Becoming a fan of a sports team almost requires the purchase of team gear – shirts, hat, foam fingers, head pieces – you name it, they got it. And they go! During a sporting event for a specific team, glance around. Take note of how many persons in the stands aren’t wearing supportive pieces. In 1993, the estimation formed that $6.2 billion dollars found themselves in the hands of merchandise sellers because so many fans purchased the products (Weiss 139). Fans will spend roundabout twenty dollars on caps or maybe ninety plus dollars on jerseys of their favorite players. The only reason that these prices can be set so high is because of the desire to wear something for that team. It creates a feeling of belonging. In reality, the consumer is just buying fabric like from anywhere else, except they pay for the name that comes with it – Astro’s, Yankees, Red Sox, Dynamo, Steelers. They may involve themselves with different sports, but they all play the same money game. Oft times, the clothing or merchandise are worn to places with no correlation to the team – super markets, the mall, to school or work, everyday places. This just continues to aid the teams by providing free advertisement for them. Once the payment for manufacturing goes through, the teams receive more money for the purchases and the advertisement that they do not have to pay for yet influences more people to attend their games.

Furthermore, an athlete’s endorsements help with the selling of other products. Nike stayed with Tiger Woods even after his affairs were publicized because he has “[helped it build] its $800 million golfing business” (“Tiger…”). The endorsements of professional athletes persuade everyday people to purchase items. The sometimes unconscious connection between the athlete’s performance and the product formulates and increases the probability of a person purchasing the object. The object can have actual relevance to a sport or it can be an energy drink, Campbell’s Soup, even a Nikon Camera – honestly, whatever the businesses wish to associate with the athlete. For items relating to sports, Figure 1 displays information on the sales of sporting equipment in 2005 and 2006. In both years, consumers spent about $3.5 billion dollars on golf products alone. This value affiliates with the success of Tiger Woods and Nike –during this time Woods began climbing to the top of the golf world once again. His success with certain clubs and his sponsorship of other golf equipment would influence buyers into thinking that those would better their game more than other brands. In 2005, the total profit calculated to $24,472 million (Fig. 1). A large amount of that profit probably came from athletic shoes, clothing lines, and sports equipment named after athletes. Some could argue that the sports players supported the items to help other people learn the sport with proper equipment and to really understand the sport with all its components. But the payment one receives affects the ultimate choice. We as humans are greedy, but most people learn to suppress it more fully than others. For others, the higher and higher goes the wage, the more and more excited gets the beneficiary. The public will pay for objects that athletes endorse. It just happens – if a famed athlete starts using a product, the bedazzled fans will swarm to buy one too. Michael Jordan starred in commercials for Nike’s Air Jordans; a viewer would try to find the source of MJ’s success and may conclude, “It’s got to be the shoes.” Since then, Jordan helped Nike pull in $800 million per year because of the sneakers, as estimated by Forbes.com in 2008. Nike probably hoped for people to believe that its shoes would increase their ability in basketball, but it was having the presence of a national idol like Michael Jordan that helped augment sales. According to an article by Mark Vancil on NBA.com, Jordan signed a $25 million contract with Wilson to create his personal basketball line, which consumers scrambled to purchase because of his rising stardom! There is no other explanation. A basketball is a basketball, and not much changing can truly alter the original. Consumers just decide they need it, and unconsciously agree to pay the inflated price due to the name and association they are purchasing too.

It is this worship of athletes that really motivates the acquiring of backed items. Many people blow athletes out of proportion and idolize them for more than their athletic ability. The use of a professional athlete for a role model and idol contributes to some degradation of society. The culture in the U.S. highly involves idolizing people in high places – assumptions about actresses and actors develop in regards to their fabulous lives; some citizens view certain politicians as almost God-sent; even I myself have the tendency to sit in front of my teachers with awe because of their apparent brilliance. It isn’t until later that I realize they teach the same subject matter for years and are not necessarily smarter than my other instructors; it isn’t until after the politician’s corrupt ways weasel their ways out into the open that Americans may reconsider his “holiness;” it takes the affairs of Mr. X and Mrs. X’s best friend leaking into Hollywood tabloids for celeb gossipers to lose respect for favorite on-camera stars.

Well, the same rules apply to professional athletes. Their pain-to-fame stories and their incomparable statistics profoundly develop the pathos of the silent argument that builds in their favor. Americans love a good, happy ending, but what better way is there to adorn a story than by adding some success in the all-American sports that permeate our society? Lou Gehrig epitomizes this: all his siblings died at an earlier age, he suffered from many broken bones and other injuries while playing baseball for the New York Yankees, and in the end, had to succumb involuntarily to the terminal disease of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (“Athlete…”). Further in the article, it describes his perseverance through this severely taxing time in his life and that, despite it all, Gehrig continued to never think once for himself. To go through such a fulfilling part of his life where he created records that remained his for fifty some-odd years and then in the end, when nothing shines on his horizon, to not become self-consumed is challenging. These moral standards that he upholds are inspirational, they give others hope to look on the bright side and not only see the approaching gloom. Gehrig exemplifies a man I would want to imitate. He, too, displays a unique athlete.

Athletes are not required to uphold moral standards and many do not. Sure, behavior clauses exist in the contracts that the pros signs, but other than national legislative limitations, little other finds itself on the banned list with legitimate reason supporting its placement there. Tiger Woods could not be kicked out of the professional golf associations and tournaments because of his extra-marital practices, but Michael Vick found himself legally drug off the turf because his dog fighting activities exhibited unlawfulness. The problem exists within the general public because athletes appear on high platforms from which they look down on society, yet common people do not realize that professionals equal regular society. We are all human and all have faults. Mesmerized fans sweep athletes’ shortcomings under the rug though and rather decorate the rest of the room with impressive stats. Declaring a sports player a good role model because of “their stellar athletic ability and impressive on-camera conduct” just does not make sense (Brown); the job description of role models involves having standards that the average person can mimic or avoid in order to improve oneself. Comparing one’s ability to forgive a transgression has no correlation with the number of rushing yards of a pro QB or the shooting percentage of a NBA player. Brown continues in her piece to talk about how it is rather “those who [choose] to make their life’s work helping others” that society to should look towards for the true role models.
Unfortunately, citizens of the everyday world see the normal and average yet only truly notice the extraordinary and unbelievable. Americans have found it a common practice to applaud those who have made a great success of themselves. Yet, ponder this, those we applaud rarely thrive in fields that work one-on-one or with a variety of people on a daily basis. They are the neurosurgeons that perform on a limited number of patients; they are the self-made business men who start major technology companies such as Macintosh and from there Apple; they are those that got to their spot though hard work – except that where accepts only a few people in.

It all trickles back to the fact that only so many professional athletes can exist. For each NBA team, only five people can play at once, with about fifteen players total. For an NFL football team, there can be maximum 53 players on the active team roster. And so it continues. The limit exists for the maximum number of players that can perform in the pro leagues, only to increase or decrease with formation or expunction of teams. For positions like teachers, the need for more establishes itself by the copious job positions that are open for the taking, all over the nation and the world. Unlike for teachers though, athletes do not necessarily have a limit to their earnings. Yes, the professional sports leagues allot each team with a certain salary cap that might confine some players to certain heights of wages, but the option to accept endorsement requests underlies all else. That portion of the business industry overlaps with sports and draws to it those athletes who wish to lengthen the number of zeros in their bank accounts. And so numerous are the possible paths that develop from these contracts that the end it limitless. The zeros can keep growing, with no end in sight.







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