Saturday, March 17, 2012

$60 Million

Sometimes, when reading the headlines, one has to sit back, cross their arms and say "Really?"

Last I read, Payton Manning is being offered up to $60 play a game.  Yes, he plays it well.  Yes, he is much sought after.  Yes, he may donate time and money.

But what does it say about our culture when a grown man is offered $60 million to play a game, that MANY athletes, actors and rock stars are paid exorbitant amounts of money for performing or playing?

One man is being offered this, and will no doubt accept that offer or one close to it.  Multiply that by the many "superstars" in all the various fields who are paid vast sums of money, and you have a sum of money that is unbelievable.

Just for kicks, I looked up the annual total salary paid out in the NFL.  Note that I am not adding in any other sport or field, like music or Hollywood, just the sport of football.  Can you even guess what the estimated annual payroll is for one year for grown men to go play a little catch and beat each other up?


Don't blink, you read it right.  $3.2 Billion Dollars.

I was stunned, I knew it would be high, but over THREE BILLION DOLLARS????

And think about this, that doesn't include any money earned from endorsements, that is strictly salary from the teams.

When are we Americans going to wise up? When will we stop contributing to this? We complain about overpaid CEO's, and how they receive millions in bonuses even when their companies are failing.  We also complain, just as I am doing tonight, about the highly overpaid sports "heroes", and yet WE are the cause of this, WE pay their salaries.

If we didn't buy terribly high priced tickets, if we didn't buy $150 Nikes with some basketball player's name on the sole or jerseys with  our favorite stars names emblazoned across the back, the teams wouldn't have the revenue to support such outrageous paychecks.

I know there is the argument of paying what the market will bear, or paying for performance, or the generation of income from superstars whose presence lures more fans to pay ever increasing ticket prices.  I get it, I really do.  I just don't like it, and I don't see how anyone else can either.

Let's say we cut those salaries in half...not take them completely away, but make it a mere $1.6 billion per year. What could be done with $1.6 billion dollars?

A lot of mortgage payments could be made.  A lot of schools could have new technology and afford to hire the best and brightest teachers.  Job training could be offered,  health care could be provided, and mouths could be fed.

Oh, I know I am oversimplifying it, and I know that any money saved by keeping salaries at a more reasonable level would not mean that money would be transferred to such things.

But still, it makes you wonder, where exactly are our priorities as a nation?  Why do we all continue to "feed the machine"? Why does a police officer earn...say...$175,000 over a 5 year period while Payton Manning can collect, potentially, $60,000,000 for throwing a ball around?

Now I am not knocking Payton Manning personally, and like anyone who is offered such a deal he'd be a fool not to take it.  But wouldn't it be amazing if sometime an athlete rejected such ridiculous offers and demanded something more reasonable...say...a million a year instead of twelve million?  Wouldn't that just restore your faith in humanity?

Crazy, I know.

Guess I'll go back and see if I have any coins under the cushion of our couch :-)


Anonymous said...

I was watching an NCAA basketball game yesterday when I found myself wondering how professional athletes can stand it. Because they don't produce anything. Their lives revolve around playing a game, and they win or they lose. Then they play again, and they win or they lose. Then they play again, and they win or they lose. It suddenly seemed so sisyphean, living that life day after day after day. The people watching the game, why does it matter? yay "my" team won! A month later it doesn't matter to anyone who won. It is very strange.

Anonymous said...

A few random thoughts--actually, not only does winning matter but how they win matters. If it is exciting, unusual, play done by a noted guy/gal, it can be run as a top 10 (goalpost kick, run for a TD, three point basket, hole in one, ball in alligator pond, etc.) for decades allowing viewers to see it over and over and over again, ad nauseum.

Who knows why watchers fill up their time with sports--the thrill of watching the striving, the suspense of looking for a downfall, vicarious living, to fill up time, to fill up space, to dream of glory, to dream of fame, to dream of money, to empty one's pockets of money for tickets, sports clothes, autographed memorabilia...

To play--I can see that more. The game becomes a passion--a run that pits skill against skill, personal skill against time, a chance to stay with one's youthful passion, etc. It's also useful, if you are a professional, to have big bucks to spend on bling, housing, nose candy, etc. I do realize that few athletes indulge in these things, but they must indulge in something even if it is just admiring a bulging stock portfolio.

You would wonder if any athlete, CEO, sports agent, etc. ever sits down and says, "I can only spend $1million this year. A good investment goal might be another $1million. Now what charities would I like to support, to what extent. Okay, that sounds like a good salary. That's what I'll negotiate."

No, doesn't appear to happen. I suppose there are few of us with a professional level talent and passion who wouldn't succumb to the temptation of money if we could, but it is heart hurting to contemplate such excess in a world of such stark need.

Here, in western Colorado, we live near ski resorts. I worked once for a builder in Telluride. Mornings there is a traffic jam of workers driving up to Telluride to take care of or build the homes of the rich and famous. Ten years ago $45,000 for grey granite blocks from China to build a bathroom even more for marble from Israel for someone else's bathroom, a just-finished home whose owner requests a grommet catalog (did you even know there was such a thing?)so that he could have the builder take out all the grommets in the kitchen and replace them with some more to his taste in this modern mansion, front doors and a walk-in fireplace from a castle in Europe, etc. One fashion designer has mountain property near here with a massive lodge, a home, and for guests tepees that have $45-50 thousand decoration bills. Even tepee living has been upgraded.

I've got a box set aside for the upcoming church rummage sale. I don't have a $60 million salary, but I still have too much and more. My husband says, "When does all this go?"

I say "April, is that okay."

"It's okay if you don't bring more home than you take."

I too am a consumer on a small but more than necessary scale. What might my dollars be able to provide for others?

Excellent musings and questions, Cindy. Wish more were pondering them and answering them in compassionate outreach.


P.S. I just searched my couch cusions. I got to paper clips, one pen top, a penny, a quarter, and enough dog hair to make a Saint Bernard.

Anonymous said...

Socialist! Red Communist!!! Do you not have any faith in the "American Way of Life?"

I agree with you - look at this article by Bill Maher. I don't always agree with him, but the content of this article stayed with me long after I read it.

On the virtue of having been poor.