The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


Out of Focus

Some athletes make more money than any politician or scientist, so maybe it’s time than we took a step back and put things in perspective.

Clay Coffman

Ten hours. That is approximately how long it takes Alex Rodriguez to make more money than the average American male makes annually. That means that while we were at school today, A-Rod probably made as much money as your parents will make in the next 6 months.

That’s ridiculous.

Rodriguez was awarded a 10 year, $275 million contract by the New York Yankees in 2008. His is one of four Yankee players’ contracts that inhabit the top five on the list of largest athlete salaries. For 2010 the Yankees’ payroll is estimated to be at about $206 million, or almost triple the Royals’ payroll of $70.5 million. Isn’t that strange?

If you asked any business major or Wall Street workhorse what they would define sports as, they would probably give you an answer with two key words- revenue and entertainment. The sports “industry” brings in billions upon billions of dollars annually, thanks to television broadcasts, sponsorships, ticket sales and your kind donations. And that is exactly what the “love of the game” has become; an industry, complete with its own frauds and Enronesque scandals.

I watched a documentary on the life of Ricky Williams recently. It showed his dominance at the University of Texas, which led to a Heisman Trophy. It showed his mediocrity with the New Orleans Saints, his extravagance with the Miami Dolphins- then it showed him throw it all away when he retired after only five years in the NFL.

The media tried to portray him in a negative light, saying that he quit just so that he could go smoke pot and be lazy. But in reality he was just trying to find himself and his love of the game, both of which had been lost in the corporate sponsorships and shoe deals.

And now Ricky is back playing in the NFL, and doing pretty well, too. Maybe if more professional athletes took a hiatus similar to his, everyone would hustle back to play defense after a basket, and no one would ever “take a play off”. They might not take their Bentleys for granted and maybe they would play like they were on the elementary school playground again, like they actually wanted to play.

It’s not the athletes’ fault that we mere mortal fans have made them into god-like figures. We are just as much to blame. Everywhere you look there is an athlete. They have become an essential part of our economy and our lifestyle. There are people who wake up every day to sports radio talk shows, then they call into said radio show on their way to work to voice their opinion on said topic. Then at work, while they listen to more sports radio quietly, they secretly check their trusty iPhone MLB Almost Too Much Access apps, as they solemnly attempt to get something done. These are the people who come to work with the swine flu so that they can save their sick days for spring training trips to Florida, and they wear the same wrinkled George Brett tie to work on every game day.

Instead of a logo on your cereal box, or a utopian cartoon of every stereotypical middle-class child and his family, you get an ostentatiously large Mark McGwire cutout, striking the ever-famous “I just hit a home run, what up?” pose, bat to the sky and roided out legs askew (1990’s may you rest in peace).

I’m trying to say that we have taken it too far. It’s okay to be a fan of something, but when fan becomes closer to fanatic, that’s where we need to step back and get ourselves together. Parents need to stop timing their kids’ 40’s and making them go to two different practices five nights a week. Instead, they should start making them read, write and learn how to properly speak and communicate. It gets old listening to athletes say things like, ”I think we played real good and we just got to work harder, then if we do that we could be the most best team in the league” (if you don’t find that funny, maybe you need to stay awake during English class as well).

It’s time that we realized that sports are fun, and they are good for kids to build competitiveness and skills they will use later in life. But when sports become more about a material goal than self-enjoyment, they aren’t sports anymore. They’re just jobs.

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