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The Eagle's Eye

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Save Money, Save the Game

Keith Allison via Flickr

Keith Allison via Flickr

The $62,294,116 man.

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62,294,116. What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear that number? In my mind, I would think it was the population of a state or something similar to the number of pores on your skin. To my surprise though, that number represents something that I never would have expected; this is the amount of money Tiger Woods’ earned in 2010-2011 golf season.

Sports and athletes play an important role in our society today. It is one of our main sources of entertainment and brings people together through the importance of teamwork. Athletes amaze and excite people through their skill in whichever sport they play, so much so that people purchase their merchandise in order to show how much of a fanatic they are. However, all the money spent on this increases the salaries of athletes from thousands to millions of dollars.

With so much money at stake though, there’s bound to be conflict among people. Money is on the minds of so many people that it becomes all they care about. The NBA lockout earlier this year showed just that. The players and owners couldn’t find a way to split all the revenue so that it would satisfy both parties. Since it took them such a long time to decide how to split it, the NBA season started the season in December and shortened the number of games from 82 down to 66. Because of this, employees of arenas suffered because they were out of work for quite some time. Money is ruining sports and the fun of it. It can cause players to switch their loyalties from just enjoying and playing the game to going to whoever will pay them the most money. Free agency can be one of the most stressful times for athletes. Teams offer millions of dollars to players just to have them on their team. All that money on the line can mess with an athlete’s brain and can affect their performance in a game.

Athletes are very famous in our society but they don’t do anything to help or serve it. Do we look to them to educate and prepare our youth for the road ahead of them? Where are they when we people are sick and need immediate medical attention? And do we depend on them to lead the citizens of the United States? No, all of these jobs belong to doctors, professors, teachers, and the president of the United States. Yet they are paid significantly less than them. Mihir Bhagat raises a good point in his article, “Do Professional Athletes Get Paid Too Much Money?”. He says, “Furthermore, police officers, firefighters, and doctors save lives while risking their own for a fraction of what sport stars make.” So while athletes have to worry about improving their performance by spending hours in a gym, other people are worrying whether or not they will survive by doing their everyday jobs. President Barack Obama makes only $400,000 a year, while Brian Scalabrine, a bench warmer on the Chicago Bulls, makes $854,389. The amount of money we pay these people reflects how important we feel they are. In other words, we think Brian Scalabrine is much more important than Barack Obama. This may not be the mindset of everyone, but the fact that we fund them with thousands and even millions of dollars shows we do. We are the ones responsible for paying athletes ridiculous amounts of money. If we didn’t buy merchandise or tickets to games, athletes wouldn’t be paid so much.

Some people don’t recognize the many flaws that professionals have. Everything that athletes do on the court or field tends to overshadow everything they do off of it. There are lots of things that are kept hidden from the general public leaving them unaware of exactly what is going on. For example, in Geoff Griffin’s “Introduction to Are Athletes Good Role Models?: At Issue” article, he mentions that many generations of fans were unaware that Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle were alcoholics and had marital problems. “Instead, fans were presented with glowing portraits of their role models that suggested the players were every bit as good off the field as they were on it.” wrote Griffin. A similar incident that occurred was when Kobe Bryant was charged with raping a young woman in 2003. Just weeks after that, he was named “Favorite Male Athlete” in the Teen Choice Awards. “Although many of these votes may have come before Bryant was charged with rape, when he showed up at the awards ceremony he received more applause from the mostly teen crowd than any other winner.” Griffin added. I think that Charles Barkley had it right when he filmed a Nike commercial saying that he was not a role model. He knew and understood that athletes were just like everyone else. “Yeah, they can dunk a basketball, hit a 400-foot home run or break off a 50-yard touchdown run, but when the lights fade, they breathe and bleed just like everyone else.” Our money should be given to those who can guide our teens in their lives and help them in their daily struggles. People like teachers and counselors are important in shaping a student’s life by pointing them in the right direction and teaching them the importance of education.

Aside from the arguments that I made, there are definitely some positives in paying athletes lots of money. When athletes gain fans, the sport they play does too. One of the goals that each association has is to spread their sport around the world. When people see great highlights, they become excited and want to see more. Another important reason is all the revenue that they bring in. Through television rights, ticket sales, etc, athletes are able to generate billions of dollars in gross revenue. With all this revenue, they are able to contribute money to the networks or companies that air or sell their products. Nike, for example became very popular after they signed Michael Jordan for a contract. Through his and other athletes’ popularity, they have become the very successful company that they are today. Also, with such a very small amount of athletes, they should be paid for all the business that they bring in. Since they have devoted their lives to the sport and are representatives of our country, the least we can do for them is to pay them a good amount of money. Sports writer Andrew Detweiler argues, “if anyone in our society deserves to make such a great amount of money, professional athletes must be near the top of the list.” Mihir Bhagat adds, “However, some may argue that while teacher;s only provide service to a single classroom, superstar athletes are entertaining fans all around the world, enticing people with a feeling of relaxation and excitement. The bottom line is that their job is to entertain, and frankly, many athletes do just that.

In light of all of this, let’s not be fans that will only fuel the fires of these athletes’ outrageous salaries. Rather, it should be spent on those benefiting our youth and paving the way for them to have a bright future. You can support and contribute to your school by donating money or helping out at any of their functions because the last thing Tiger Woods needs is more money.

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