I confess to being a sports fanatic and admit a good part of my day and night is spent thinking about my favorite teams. But, this story is not about how athletes play, but the politics of how they make money. Let’s face it, become an athlete these days and you are an instant millionaire regardless of how well or poorly you play. Derek Jeter, the outstanding New York Yankee shortstop just completed a contract which over the past ten years paid him about $19 million per year. He is age, 36, not as fast as he once was, not as good at hitting or fielding, but he definitely does not wish to have his salary decline. Owners of professional athletic teams are interested in both money and glory. If your team wins a title, the owner becomes an instant American hero despite the fact he never did a damn thing to earn this accolade. A high percent of Americans live vicariously off the performance of their athletic heroes so if a player on your team hits four home runs in a game, somehow you played a part in that performance because you are a fan. We fantasize about being on a playing field, we dream of glory and go to bed only to awake to the job at the department store.
Derek Jeter is insulted because, after batting 270 he has been offered a salary of $15 million a year! He is upset because his team mate, Alex Rodriguez got a salary paying him $25 million a year. Frankly, no one is worth that kind of money, but we live in the era of pampered athletes and they will get whatever they can. The reality is that no one these days in professional sports gets paid what they deserve. Owners make gobs of money and in the spirit of free enterprise will take as much money as they can. Let’s face it, athletes and owners are simply two sides of the same coin of greed.