Ah, the Times in Which We Live… Sports and Money

Hardass-GM-is-a-hardass

©Paramount Pictures

Full disclosure: I am a Vikings fan; I have been since I was nine-years old and discovered these guys with big white horns on their helmets beating up on the Chicago Bears.  Over the years, what this shows, if anything, is that I can take a lot of misery.  What I can’t take is the seemingly endless line-up of overpaid prima donnas whose only contribution to the general consciousness is to play a sport.

Now I could spend my time here deliberating the pros and cons of one Percy Harvin, he of the migraine headaches and deliverer of headaches to opponents and front office personnel, alike.  His football talent isn’t really on my mind – it’s his yapping about his contract.  With the advent of big money in pro sports, there seems to be somebody, somewhere, on some team who doesn’t get the whole “team before self” concept.  These are the guys who gotta get paid.  Mo’ money, mo’ money, mo’ money.  Every year, we get to hear their Soliloquies of Self-worth, with a percentage for their agents.  These are the guys who treat contracts as nothing more than suggestions that are past consideration and college as nothing more than an opportunity to show-off for the pros while diplomas are for other people.  Who can blame them?  A single year’s payout from some of these contracts would set me up for the rest of my life!  Still there are those who complain they aren’t being paid enough.  And oh, how they are being disrespected by the teams who hold their contracts and don’t renegotiate!

I read an article several years ago, when corporate raiders were all the rage, that talked about how the obscene salaries for many executives of these Fortune 500 companies had gotten past the point of what was equitable compensation to simply one-upping the other big executives.  So while the earnings of average American workers have stagnated over the past three decades (and my salary from these years is testament to that!), CEOs across the country were engaged in some big corporate dick-measuring contest!  This is what goes on in pro sports and isn’t it about time somebody ask “how much money is enough”?

I suppose some “free-market”-types will step in and talk about pricing and salaries are commensurate with what the market will bear.  Well, the market is bearing public funding of stadiums (ahem, how are those pull-tabs working out for you, Minnesota?), PSL’s, and outrageous concession and parking fees.  I have been to one Viking game in my life and I got to see Cris Carter make his one-handed grab against the Falcons in Atlanta… sort of.  I had tickets where I could afford them and I would have seen the catch better if the Falcons would have stood more to the side so I could get a better view.  I watched a preseason game between the Buffalo Sabres and the Pittsburgh Penguins.  At the time, it cost me $80 per seat to sit on the glass.  During the season, that cost would have at least quadrupled.  Who can afford this?

So, Percy will just have to forgive me if I don’t share some sympathy for his plight of not garnering the financial respect he thinks he deserves.  Because if Percy was a smart fella, he’d have paid attention last year when the Vikings won four games when they absolutely had to win them and did.  Percy would have noticed that he wasn’t on the field during those games and that might mitigate the Vikings’ willingness to deal with an oft-ailing player who complains too loudly.  That sort of thing could find you a new home in Jacksonville and how much money would it take to ease that pain?

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