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Something terrible has happened to sports! Basically the same thing that has happened to government! MONEY!

As we entered the new decade, the average salary of a baseball player topped TWO MILLION! Did anyone hear that? Two Million for playing a game! Not to mention the revenues for product endorsements and commercials! How can the masses of American working people who put in forty to fifty hours a week, many in hazardous jobs, earning only $30,000 to 50,000 a year not be offended by the fact that in one year the average baseball player earns more than they will in 20 years or a lifetime? Has anyone noticed that the average salary of a major league baseball player was under $20,000 in 1967. Since that time the consumer price index has Quadrupled, while the average salary of a baseball player has increased 118-fold! Compare these salaries to those of people who really do have important jobs such as Commander in Chief (President), Military Leaders, Small Corporate Executives, etc. These sports guys are simply playing a GAME!

In mid year 2001 a contract for $252 Million was given to a single player! Hello? Isn’t that over a quarter BILLION? His agent got $12 Million for negotiating his contract! The player stated on national television that he had turned down $130 Million the year before!

In 2002, with the economy in the toilet, the stock market at a four-year low, government spending back in the deficit column, and the country at war with terrorism, the players were talking about going on strike? Am I supposed to be sympathetic that the $2-million a year average isn’t enough? I’m sorry, but I’m so offended that not only will I NEVER purchase a ticket to see a major league baseball game, I will try not to be purchasing ANY product with which they choose to associate or endorse.

Adding insult to injury, is no one offended that some taxpayers are even paying to build stadiums to attract these teams and games to their area so the players and owners can make all these big bucks off tickets, concessions, memorabilia, television, etc. Why don’t the owners and a few of the over paid players pay for the stadiums and then give them to the communities in which they decide to locate?

There was a time when sporting events were a pass time, a friendly competition, a group activity for exercise and mutual enjoyment by both those watching and those participating at the play level. It recent years it has become an all consuming money making business that has lost sight of the original concept of friendly competition. When high school and college coaches or athletic directors get paid obscene amounts of money compared to teachers, professors, and many company executives, I think we have gotten our priorities out of whack. When we’re graduating people from colleges and high schools who lack even the very basic English, reading and math skills, but we get all excited about the athletic performances of certain young people and to which pro team they’ll be going, we have serious problems. Competitive sports between colleges and countries, such as the Olympics, is usually healthy rivalry and fun …. As it should be. However, we need to keep in mind that it is supposed to be friendly competition and it is still JUST A GAME!

game (gâm) noun  1. An activity providing entertainment or amusement; a pastime: party games; word games.  2. A competitive activity or sport in which players contend with each other according to a set of rules: the game of basketball; the game of gin rummy.   3  A single instance of such an activity:  We lost the first game.

I just can’t seem to justify spending anywhere from $30 to $150, to sit and watch a bunch of guys run back and forth for an hour or more pushing a ball through a hoop, or knocking a puck in a net, or seeing how many times all the players can spit between plays. When it’s over, there will be a winner and a loser. But does it really make any important difference? Was it anything more than entertaining? At best just short lived bragging rights because next week will bring a new game and next year a new season.

One of my friends in Tampa, on occasion goes to one of the pro football games. He takes his wife and reports that his good seats for a single game cost $120 each! Add $15-20 to park near the stadium and $6.00 for a couple of beers, (I was afraid to ask the cost of a hamburger and fries to go with the beers.) and you’re now in the $250-$275 range for two hours of entertainment! The cheap seats go for $60 each. How does the average working man justify paying these kinds of prices for entertainment? I just can’t do it! It’s just a GAME!!! Hello? Miss three to five games and you and your sweetie can take a week’s cruise! I don’t know how things are around your house, but taking mama on a week-long cruise will certainly provide me with far more in return than taking her to see guys sweat through some pro sporting events.

I can fully understand mustering excitement and rooting for one’s own home high school or college team playing a rival school. School and team spirit mingle and the winners get bragging rights until next year’s meet. But who cares who wins a professional sporting event where the players are paid exorbitant salaries? Just for bragging rights? Because in reality, that’s all that it’s worth.

I’ve never had much interest in sports, but did not find my self repulsed by it all until it started being obscenely BIG money. I just really have a problem with single players of a team getting multi-million dollar contracts to play …. ON A TEAM! Do you get my drift here? Why not EVERY player getting basically the same pay with a few bonus dollars for special plays they may make during the season? Is the one guy the entire team? Frankly, I don’t see how they keep the “team” happy with the present scenario. If I were playing I’d just always give the ball to the highest paid dude and say, “Here, do your thing, earn your pay”.

I don’t mean to take away from the dedication and efforts athletes put into winning and being the best in their sport. In fact, I really love seeing a really good athlete “do his or her thing”. That even goes along with that old adage ringing in my head from early school days about “It’s not that you win or lose, but how you played the game.” Key words in all of this are “play” and “game”. In this country we’re putting too much emphasis playing games and not enough emphasis on developing the skills necessary in the truly big game, LIFE!

An example of sports which I don’t find offensive are golf and tennis. A player’s earnings are based wholly on his own personal ability and skills. He pays his own expenses and if he has a bad day and does not make the cut, he does not get paid. It’s not like a professional fight wherein the loser still gets several million just for getting into the ring. Sort of takes away from the meaning of losing doesn’t it? Tell the loser he gets NOTHING and I’m sure you’d see a better fight. Just how many baseball games can a team lose in a season yet still end up to the World Series, the players all get bonus money into the hundreds of thousands, and they still become the national champions? I just can’t relate and I AM offended by it all!

A local police officer was almost killed in my area just recently trying to intervene in a domestic disturbance. He makes less than $27,000 a year! He works forty-plus hours every week, often times he is required to put his own life in jeopardy, is required to stay physically fit, has a family to maintain, contributes to the betterment of the community and us all, yet he makes less than 2% of some guy who gets paid to play his favorite game a few times a week. How about teachers, firemen, and YOU? Am I the only one that finds this disparity offensive?

I saw last week where some of these sports giants and hero figures were arrested on drug charges. Yet, out of jail and claiming innocence, they are still playing and sports fans are still cheering and paying to see them play a GAME. The message to young people in this is……?

What is it with the men of this world? I say men, because I don’t think there are that many women out there furthering this stupidity over GAMES. I don’t see them getting together on weekends to drink beer and watch very many games, if any! Games have a place, but I think we have moved them to a much too high a place in our daily lives. I live in Florida. When I see something on the front page such as “Seattle Stomps Cleveland in Playoffs”. I really could not care any less! This is front page news? Does anyone else in the world really care besides the folks in Seattle or Cleveland? Basically when I see the sports section of the newspaper, it says to me “Wrap Fish Here”.