I have long felt that professional athletes make far too much money for what they do. It turns my stomach that a person who can skate fast, catch a ball or completes a great ‘play’ can make millions of dollars while everyday people who do so much more for society often live paycheque to paycheque. Is it fair, for example, that a sports star makes more than a teacher / doctor / first responder / soldier / librarian / pretty much everyone?
I know I am over simplifying things a bit. I fully realize that professional sports fall into the ‘private business’ category, and that athletes can demand high salaries because franchise owners make so much money and are partnered up with other private corporations who offer lucrative sponsorships. Plus many athletes do a heck of a lot for charitable causes in their communities, which shouldn’t go unacknowledged. Most of the professions I mentioned earlier are funded by taxpayers, so understandably those salaries have to be regulated. And in reality, that’s fine; no one really needs millions of dollars or the lifestyle it brings. Most of us are quite happy and content with what we have, even with debts and without new cars or fancy clothes every season.
And truthfully (selfishly), I kind of push my objections aside because frankly I like a lot of professional sports! I particularly enjoy the NFL and the spectacular show that surrounds every weekend’s games. It’s just one of those things in life that is outside of my control, so why stress about it?
But every now and then something happens that reminds me how absurd it is to pay these people the salaries that they make. First last week, Dez Bryant of the Dallas Cowboys was caught on camera, on the sidelines during the final minutes of a game, stomping his feet and screaming at his quarterback and coaches / trainers because the QB had thrown the ball to another player (failing to score). Perhaps its just me, but IMO temper tantrums have no play in the workplace. Bryant was called out for his behaviour, but an equal number of commentators argued that this was just an example of his ‘passion’ for the game.
Um, what? I’m passionate about the quality of reports I hand in to my boss at work, but if he chooses to give an important project to a colleague and the project is not successful, does this mean I’ve got the go ahead to scream in my boss’s face? I’m pretty sure I’d be finding myself a new profession pretty quick (at least I’d have more time to blog daily, right?)
Then this week, it gets worse. The NFL is reporting that a Miami Dolphins player, Richie Incognito, is being investigated for, get this: bullying a rookie player. Seriously?! Incognito allegedly sent racist and threatening messages to another player on the team, who finally got so fed up he just left the Dolphins, took a leave of absence. Thankfully, no one seems to be outright defending Incognito although a number of other players have failed to strongly condemn his behaviour. He was considered a ‘leader’ on the team and many young players have said that they thought this was just the way things were in NFL locker rooms.
I find this unbelievably sad and infuriating. These men, with seemingly every advantage in the world and millions of dollars streaming into their bank accounts every week, still could not find the courage to stand up and stop a teammate from bullying a colleague. How much harder must it be for the twelve year olds in school locker rooms across the world? For volunteer coaches, and teachers in charge of imparting not only knowledge but morality on our youth?
Obviously nothing is going to change what is already done, but lets take this opportunity, yet again, to reinforce the lesson that bullying is never okay. And bullies shouldn’t be rewarded with millions of dollars. Maybe Incognito, if he is found guilty, should be fined the equivalent of the salary he has made during the entire time the bullying was going on. The Dolphins / NFL could turn around and donate that money to anti-bullying programs for youth.
Now THAT would be a million-dollar play.