!!!Things That REALLY Piss Me Off
(Professional athletes struggling to make a living) 
When I was growing up in the 1940s and 50s one of my great summer thrills was to go to a professional baseball game whether it was the local triple A team, which back then was the farm team for the Cleveland Indians in Wilkes-Barre, PA, or the big leagues in New York and Philly, each of which was only slightly more than a two hour ride away. Although ticket cost wasn’t an important or even known criteria to me or most other kids back then, it was to the many fathers that took their kids to these games, and judging from the number of kids who attended those games, the prices must have been quite affordable for most working families. 

But that was then, and this is now when in 2015 the cost of an average seat for a major league baseball game was $25.94 (not unreasonable), $53.98 for an NBA game (not quite so reasonable), $62.18 for the NHL (even less reasonable and way too much money for a sport that most folks from the US just think of as ice dancing with big sticks), and a whopping $85.83 for the NFL (several miles beyond absurd and well into the, “Are you fucking kidding me?” category!). With the exception of baseball, which seems to have a reasonable average ticket cost for this day and age, the other three, and especially football, are prohibitive for the average middle class working family, and it is shameful that the leagues sit by quietly doing nothing while Middle America is precluded from attendance without going into debt like they were buying a friggin’ house!

If we look at major league baseball, the sport with the least expensive average tickets, their thirty teams take in somewhere around $2.5 billion dollars a year in seat ticket sales. Add to that another $52 million per team for national TV rights, and you’ve got a total of around $4.06 billion dollars which works out to about $135.33 million dollars per team, and that’s without local broadcasting rights, team endorsements, ticket and product sales or other such revenue generating mechanisms. But if you look at the other end of the spectrum, the national Football league where ticket prices are the highest, in 2014 each team received roughly $226 million dollars (yes, a piece!) as its share for just the NFL’s national TV rights. Once again that does not include other sources of income as listed above. No matter how you look at it, that’s a whole lot of money folks, and yet the average ticket price for an NFL regular season game is more than three times the cost of the average Major League Baseball ticket!

One of the big reasons for these high seat costs is that professional sports (with the blessing of their fans) has allowed player salaries to get ridiculously and shamefully out of hand. As you might expect, professional athletes make a lot of money. At the “bottom” of the heap, players in the NFL make on average $1.9 million per year, NHL $2.4 million, MLB $3.2 million, and at the top by a large margin, the NBA at $5.15 million. Although NFL players are paid the least, tickets for their sport are by far the highest costing in professional sports which is almost certainly due in no small measure to the relatively few number of games they play in comparison to other sports. 

According to Forbes’ magazine, here are the total income statistics (salaries, bonuses and endorsements) in 2014 for the top ten highest paid US athletes in all of professional sports. Keep in mind that this is for one year only, 2014, and not life time earnings!

Floyd Mayweather  -  $300 million (Boxing)
LeBron James  - $65 million (Basketball)
Kevin Durant  - $54 million (Basketball)
Phil Mickelson  -  $51 million (Golf)
Tiger Woods  -  $51 million (Golf)
Kobe Bryant  -  $50 million (Basketball)
Ben Roethlisberger  -   $49 million (Football)
Ndamukong Suh  -  $39 million (Football)  
Jon Lester  -  $34 million (Baseball)
Derrick Rose  -  $34 million (Basketball)

​The three largest all time professional sports multi-year contracts were all in baseball and include $248 million for Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers, $275 million for Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees, and finally the current all time high of $325 million dollars for Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins.

I don’t disagree that professional athletes have amazing and often unique physical talents for which they should be appropriately compensated, but the key word there is “appropriately”, and I think most reasonable people outside of the professional sports world agree that what way too many professional athletes are now being paid is far beyond “appropriate” or even reasonable. I mean, look at Derrick Rose or John Lester who are tied for tenth place on the list. Thirty four million dollars a year! That’s the equivalent of about $654,000 a week or $93,000 a day! Doesn’t it make you wonder if these guys could maybe scrape by on a bit less, say “only” $15 or $20 million a year? Okay, so maybe they’d have to give up a few of their girlfriends or ten or fifteen of their luxury cars, and maybe they’d have to sell a few of their houses or even give up a drug habit, but you know….sometimes life is tough! If these professional athletes were never given the opportunity to showcase their athletic skills in a professional sports arena, how many of them do you think would be making $50,000 a year let alone the tens of millions a year they are now hauling in?

Be it, drugs, alcohol, DUI, domestic abuse or plain old criminal behavior, how often does a news story pop up about a professional athlete whose excesses have landed him in trouble with the law? They’re about as rare as a Lindsay Lohan or Justin Bieber misadventure! Part of it almost certainly has to do with too much money and too much time to find ways to blow it and abuse it. But still, the American sports fan keeps feeding the meter and making it all possible!

So here’s my point. Many professional athletes make in one year absurd amounts of money well beyond what their star status would have earned for them back and 1960s (even on an inflation adjusted basis) and also well beyond what people performing important (if not critical) functions in our society are making in their respective professions, not in a year, but in a lifetime! While these exorbitant salary packages are being paid for in part by upper class Americans who are the only ones able to afford professional sporting event tickets, a major portion of these excessive compensation packages are also subsidized by the rest of Americans who, even though they can’t afford to buy tickets for a game, are still unwittingly paying a significant part of these costs through increased cable and satellite subscription costs as well as the sale of team products.

But a big part of the blame also rests squarely on the shoulders of fans who have allowed this state of affairs to happen through their ever growing support of these sports enterprises. The salaries of professional athletes have gotten absurdly out of hand and are long overdue for a “correction”, a correction that can only be implemented by the fan base. If fans were to turn their backs on all professional sports franchises for a year or two (that means not watching or listening to games on TV or radio or buying franchised products), the many revenue sources which support those exorbitant salaries would fall dramatically triggering a reduction in contract salaries which would then be followed by a drastic drop in seat prices. This would eventually enable families with modest means to enjoy an occasional professional sporting event. It’s all a question of supply vs demand. At the moment, supply is in the driver’s seat, but if the many fans of these sports were to use their consumer muscle as suggested above, this would undoubtedly cause the pendulum to swing back over to the demand side as the controlling factor. Yeah, I know….what have I been smoking? It probably won’t ever happen, but it’s still nice to think that it could. 

The human body has as finite capacity as to the amount of vitamins it can absorb and store in the body. Once it reaches that capacity, it simply throws off the excess and gets rid of it. In other words if you take too many vitamins, then you’re quite literally pissing away that excess along with your hard earned money. It’s the same thing with professional athletes and their salaries and bonuses. Believe it or not, there is a finite amount of money you can spend to live well….actually, that should be very well or even more accurately, exceptionally well. After that, all the cars, houses, women and drugs are just a means to get rid of the excess money by pissing it away. 

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