This should be the least popular piece of writing I ever do amongst my regular readers.
I am a massive sports fan.
I love them. I love the competitiveness, the drama, the talent, the drama, the story-lines, the drama, the moments captured in time…and did I mention the drama.
You see, I’m quite boring. I’m not funny. I’m not intelligent and there’s nothing really that special about me, but sports(read: American sports) are the one things I actually do excel in.
I’m not good at them, at least not until typing becomes an Olympic event, but I like to think I’m good at breaking them down, watching them and writing about them…then again, I like to think a lot of things most of which aren’t anywhere near to being true.
When I was growing up I was a massive Liverpool FC fan. The excitement of going home on a Tuesday or Wednesday night after school to watch Liverpool in the Champions League(yes kids, Liverpool used to be a good team…seems like such a long time ago now) was quite easily the highlight of my week.
I was literally the guy that was always wearing a Liverpool jersey in training or was constantly talking about them in the school corridors.
As the years drew on however, whether it be because of Liverpool’s failures as a club or whatever else, I just lost all interest in supporting the team. After Steven Gerrard’s victory in the FA Cup final over West Ham, yes I give the whole victory to him, and that (in)famous night in Istanbul in 2005, I kind of stopped caring about football.
The biggest reason wasn’t Liverpool’s struggles. The biggest reason was I realized how despicable most of the people were who were involved.
Once, when I was significantly younger, my dad brought me to Anfield. I couldn’t have been any more excited. I mean, it was Anfield and Steven Gerrard and Xabi Alonso were playing. What more could a teenage boy want? (Let’s call that one a rhetorical question!)
Liverpool versus Middlesborough. Liverpool didn’t win, they drew, but it was my first ever game so I didn’t care. I couldn’t really complain either when the captain knocked this in either.
Fast forward five or six years, and now most of my fandom follows the NFL in America.
Next week, the 2012 NFL draft will take place. Now I love the draft, it is great entertainment and a fascinating thing for me to cover as a journalist. However, it also disgusts me at times.
Andrew Luck, a young man coming from a wealthy family graduating from Stanford University, will be the first overall pick in the draft. What this essentially means is that Luck was the best player in college and will go to the worst team in the professional league.
Now I do not begrudge Andrew Luck a thing. I am a fan of his and think he has a fine character. I wish him the very best in the NFL and the rest of his life.
However, the fact that Luck will likely receive close to $25 million dollars for playing football sickens me.
The money that professional athletes are paid is completely disproportionate to their value to the world. Luck is being drafted to replace Peyton Manning who was released from the Colts after earning over $180 million from his football career, a figure you could probably double with endorsements, before signing a $96 million deal with his new team: the Denver Broncos.
Of course, it’s not Manning or Luck’s fault. Nor is it the fault of baseball player Albert Pujols that the Los Angeles Angels were willing to pay him $240 million to swing a wooden bat at a fast traveling ball this year.
These people should be commended for being at the very top of their game. However, what they do does not really affect the world. I feel like I’m being ripped off whenever I have to pay 50 euros to visit the doctor for a half an hour, but at the very least the doctor is carrying out an important role in society.
Professional sports players, as much as we all admire them, are not important at all.
The worst volunteer doctor/builder making a trip to Africa or fighting poverty at home is far more valuable than Peyton Manning throwing a football. Many professional sports-people should be commended because quite a substantial number of them are incredibly generous with their wealth and run/support various organizations that help the less fortunate.
But realistically, most of the money invested in these players goes on expenses that simply aren’t needed. For example, why does Tom Brady, with his family of three, need a house this big?
It’s something that will never change, and yes I understand that most professional sports-people are not filthy rich and plenty of them have their careers cut short. That does not justify just how much money they are paid for playing a game.
It’s a business, but realistically, who needs $96 million to play football for five years?
Sometimes I read about a player making the league minimum or taking a paycut. Then I realize that the league minimum in the NFL is something close to $475 thousand dollars.
Of course, most of us play for free, and none of us are capable of playing as well as those guys, but just because they’re better than us in that single facet of live, that doesn’t mean they should be so handsomely rewarded.
When people like Warren Sapp and Allen Iverson go bankrupt after making millions upon millions in their careers I have no sympathy.
It may be the unpopular thing to say to most of my audience, but that money is being wasted on athletes when it should be spent on more important parts of life.