Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I’ve never been one addicted to sports. 

I have early memories of my father sitting in front of the T.V. for hours at a time screaming at the top of his lungs over a baseball or football game.  I just was never that interested in sports.   

In school I played sports like everyone else, but was never good at much of anything until I picked up a tennis racket one summer, somewhere around 1973.

In my junior year of high school my coach placed me on the varsity tennis team after I had participated in a tennis camp the previous summer.  I quickly rose in the ranks until I had beaten the top sixth seed on the team, quite an accomplishment for me, one who had never excelled at sports. 

I remember well, the girls coming out of the woodwork to flirt with me.  They weren’t interested in me so much as they were interested in dating a sports figure.   

My glory while on the varsity tennis team didn’t last though, as I quickly lost interest and dropped in the rankings to something like number 56, eventually refusing to suit up and weeks later just not showing up for practice, spoiling my chances for lettering.

Now, at age 54, nothing much has changed except I do enjoy watching soccer on T.V. with my wife.  She goes nuts over the games, but I remain only mildly interested.   

The one thing about sports that has always managed to catch my interest is when sports figures get into trouble.  It’s typically the highly paid professional sports figures, those making astronomical dollar figures, who get nabbed doing drugs, selling drugs, getting into gang fights, investing in illegal gambling, etcetera.  Heads hung low, they exit the court room in handcuffs, sent off to prison for something that could easily have been avoided, their highly paid careers ruined. 

The news is full of announcements heralding unbelievable amounts of money being paid for a transfer to a new team with deep pockets.  Suddenly, a kid who played high school ball and whose acne hasn’t even cleared up yet, is catapulted into bankrolls reaching into the millions and multi-millions. 

Christiano Ronaldo is twenty-four years old.  He recently received one hundred thirty million dollars for his transfer to Real Madrid.  Above and beyond that, his yearly salary amounts to a cool 12.3 million, not to mention his numerous endorsements. 

Frankly…that pisses me off.   

The world is screaming “Economy!  Economy!” but the sports world doesn’t appear to be screaming anything, other than "More money!  More Money!

Every day I see neighborhoods wrought with poverty here in Southern Thailand, yet families living in run down housing sit around their small T.V. (If they even have a T.V.), and watch commercials featuring the likes of Christiano Ronaldo telling everyone that he uses such-and-such a product.  Quite honestly that disgusts me. 

My dad used to say, “If something bugs you son, don’t bitch about it, write about it!

So, that’s what I’m gonna do. 

I recently googled “Highest paid American sports figures,” and clicked on the following link:

It was mentioned on the website that current salaries and endorsements were used (exception: 2008 for NFL), except in the case of winnings (auto racing, golf, tennis) where 2007 calendar year amounts were used. 

Attached is a breakdown of the salaries for each of the fifty players (Whose names I didn't include, but who represent auto racing, golf, tennis, the NFL and NBA, baseball, and boxing).  Click HERE to take a look at the figures or to check my math.

The total was a breath-taking…


Eight hundred seven million, fifteen thousand, six hundred seventy dollars!  That is enough money to pull a small, poverty stricken country out of the hole!  And that's only fifty players. 

How many professional sports figures are there in the U.S.?

Answer:  Approximately four million.

You do the math. 

So, here's my proposal…

Order an immediate cap on all professional sports salaries.  Let’s give them...oh, say about the same salary a postal worker makes in the U.S. 

They get to keep their winnings (if applicable) but let’s put a cap on that too.  Something reasonable like say five thousand dollars or so (Sorry Tiger..).    

No millions, no hundred thousands, just five thousand. 

The only thing we don’t mess with is their endorsements.  If the ad companies want to pay them some ungodly amount of money, let them go for it.  Heck, if you look at somebody like Tom Brady of the NFL, his salary is a paltry eight million, whereas his endorsements total more than ten million. 

Then get somebody in the government, somebody good at accounting, to figure out the difference.  Then take that money and spread the wealth around.  Don’t tax it, don’t fiddle with it, no strings attached, just dole it out to those who need it, like soup kitchens, homeless shelters, volunteer agencies…let your imagination run. 

In my humble opinion, that money would be much better spent instead of being in the hands of some immature, often irresponsible ego-maniac who’s only going to end up sucking on a bong, or fighting dogs illegally, or jamming steroids up his or her butt. 

Oh, and if the players don’t like it?  Let them quit.  There will always be somebody in line behind them, just waiting for the opportunity to get a try out!



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