Out of Whack
Sports is out of whack with reality. We’ve known that for years yet we never seem to do anything about it. We allow athletes and teams and owners and coaches to do things, say things, that we wouldn’t tolerate with non-athletic types. The longer I’ve been in this business the more out of whack it gets. And I’m not even talking about Jerry’s Cowboys SOMEHOW going up almost a billion dollars in value in one year despite having nothing to show for it on the field. The old adage that something is worth “whatever someone is willing to spend” goes way out of bounds when it comes to sports. Is a utility infielder for the Rangers (whose name you’ve never heard) worth $3.8 million a year? Hell no he isn’t. Is a third-line defenseman for the Stars worth $2.2 million a season? Not in million years. But somehow “the system” is set up to grossly overpay athletes and coaches.
The latest example to get under my too thin skin is the fact that the newly appointed chancellor for the University of Texas is making $1.2 million dollars a year. All he has to do is oversee all of the school’s campuses and thousands of employees and students. Earning a million bucks is pretty good pay for all of that responsibility except for the fact that he’s making $3.8 million a year less than the school’s new football coach. Not the guy who’s been there for 15 years and gone through five contracts but the FIRST YEAR coach. And why not? All Navy Admiral William McRaven did to get his job was spearhead the Navy Seal attack that led to the death of the most notorious terrorist this country has ever confronted, Osama Bin Laden. He’s earned over two dozen medals and has a Masters degree from the Naval Academy. New football coach Charlie Strong won 12 games at Louisville last year–it’s not even a close race. Of course the school should pay the coach four times as much as his boss.
The argument is that the team draws 100,000 paying fans each Saturday and earns plenty of money to pay Strong so well. But that’s not really the point, the point is that “the system” says that a top program in 2014 pays its head football coach around $5 million a year. It doesn’t want to pay him that…but it HAS to. Just like the Rangers HAVE to pay the utility infielder 10 times more than the average doctor. Let me ask a simple question: what else would these guys be doing if they weren’t coaching or catching ground balls? Selling used cars probably. None of them gave up a law practice to play in the NBA or turned down a CEO job in the Silicon Valley to play tight end for the Bengals. This is all they can do and when your options are that limited, “the system” usually kicks your ass.
Take whatever we’ll pay you or we’ll get someone else. There isn’t an athlete or coach alive who wouldn’t take 1/5 of what they make if suddenly that’s all that was offered. So why do we so easily accept that these guys have to make so much money? Wouldn’t it be a better country if Strong only made say, $2 million and the extra money was used for disabled students or help professors, who mold tomorrow’s leaders, make another $25,000 per year? It has to stop somewhere, just like the housing market went bust a few years ago because it was artificially inflated, I boldly predict the same thing in sports. When we all realize, enough is enough.