James Neal signed a 6 year $30 Million contract extension recently. The Pirates just acquired A.J. Burnett from the Yankees and picked up $13 Million of his $33 Million contract over the next two years. After I wrote that it struck me how much more Burnett makes than Neal. That’s fucking insane. By the way if there was ever a movie made about James Neal and A.J. Burnett then Paulo Costanzo would play Neal and Chris Cooper would play Burnett. (I’m great at matching people with the actors who would play them in a movie.) Not that anyone would ever want to watch a movie about Burnett and Neal. Unless maybe the two of them meet at some fundraiser and hit it off and get arrested for having anal in the parking lot of a Giant Eagle then champion for same-sex marriage rights in Pennsylvania. Now that’s a movie! Everyone loves a gay underdog story. (James Neal probably isn’t gay but A.J. Burnett most assuredly is.)
There’s also a lot of talk these days about Mike Wallace (Lance Gross!) getting a huge contract. With all these local athletes getting paid I’ve already heard the inevitable complaints about athletes making too much money. Most of the complaints are from talk radio callers. I have been listening to a lot of talk radio in the car recently because my commute has been extra long. There’s construction near my house and not only is the detour a longer route with more traffic but I always forget about the construction until I’m like two feet away so I pretty much have to backtrack to take the detour. Every time that happens I get so pissed at everyone. THERE SHOULD BE HUGE SIGNS ALONG MY ENTIRE COMMUTE REMINDING ME. By the way, why is the posted detour always the most ridiculously long alternate route? There is always a much faster detour that they don’t tell you about. Do they do this on purpose to fuck with us? Only a moron would take the posted detour. (I had been taking the posted detour until like two days ago when my wife finally told me about the shorter route.)
So getting back to the salary thing— I can understand old people complaining about athletes making too much money because in 1950 the minimum wage was 75 cents an hour so $30 Million must seem unreal. But if you actually look at the salaries with reason—they really aren’t that outlandish. The NFL makes $4 Billion a year from television contracts alone. MLB only makes a fraction of that from television (around $1 Billion) but they also have ten times as many games to draw attendance revenue from. The NBA is also making billions and even though the NHL is lagging behind the other major sports, their revenues have gone up enough to warrant an increase in their salary cap each of the last three seasons. Pro Sports are a BIG BUSINESS. The money is there to be had and the players are getting their share.
Let’s take a closer look at the players just in terms of numbers. There are 31 starting Quarterbacks in the NFL. (I’m not counting Tebow). Those are the only 31 people in the WORLD that start at Quarterback on any given Sunday. Only 31 people do what they do. If there were only 31 plumbers in the entire world then they would make millions of dollars too. There are only 30 MLB teams. That’s 30 starting first basemen. 30 shortstops. These guys are the absolute best at what they do. There aren’t many of them. There are 30 people on the same floor of my building that do exactly what I do in my day job. Athletes are paid a ton of money because they possess rare skills that hardly anyone else in the world does. You and I are replaceable. Most of these guys aren’t. There aren’t that many Tom Bradys out there. Or Dirk Nowitzkis. Or Prince Fielders. Evgeni Malkin is the best hockey player in the world right now. That’s worth $8.7 Million a year, no?
Now, could we make do without athletes? Do we need pro sports in our society? I do. If it wasn’t for sports I would be on the top of some building right now with a high powered rifle. Also my yard would be meticulous. You wouldn’t be reading this either if you didn’t like sports. (Unless you did a google search on Chris Cooper and now you’re like WTF?) Athletes entertain us. They thrill us. We watch them. We talk about them. We write stupid blogs about them. The NFL makes $4 Billion in television revenue because WE decided there is nothing we would rather do on Sundays. Two thousand years ago Romans gathered in the Colosseum to watch sports and we haven’t really stopped to this day. Athletes are here to stay. They deserve what they make. Leave it alone.
You know who doesn’t deserve the crazy salaries they get? CEOs. (Yes, I’m going there right now.) The CEO of United Health Group, Stephen J Hemsley (no relation to Sherman– although he COULD PLAY HIM IN A FUCKING MOVIE) made over $100 Million last year.
I never even heard of United Health Group but I’m sure they’ve taken some of my money at some point. The CEO of the company I work for got fired last year and his goodbye present was worth $34 Million. The CEO of my last company made over $15 Million in each of his five years on the job and they continue to lose money each year and have laid off tens of thousands of employees. Tony Hayward, former CEO of BP during the 2010 gulf disaster collects a pension of over $1 Million every year until his death. There are 3,000 companies in the NY Stock Exchange. That’s a lot of fucking CEO’s. Those guys are replaceable—like you and me. None of them can throw a 90 mph fastball. None of them can run a 4.4 forty. They’re business men that made their way to the top of their companies but there are thousands of business men in positions beneath them ready to take their place. Ready to collect that ridiculous paycheck. Still think athletes make too much? (Right now there is some guy on a finance blog writing about assholes who complain about CEO’s making too much money.)