Over the last several months, I have read comments and been involved in discussions about how professional athletes are incredibly overpaid and are essentially spoiled brats. In an attempt to appeal to me, they often bring up how poor teachers (because I am a qualified teacher, you see) are underpaid and undervalued while these athletes get truckloads of money for 'just playing games.' Now, several years ago, I actually ranted and raved about how sport stars' greed was killing pro sports and making me no longer interested in watching it. I vowed I'd no longer follow the sports I once loved, but in retrospect, that was a lot easier to do when I was lacking cable since I was shacked up in the boonies (also known as central Ontario or cottage country). Now with a few more years under my belt, I still do see greed doing some harm in pro sports (thus causing things like strikes that prevent a season or championship), but I no longer see it as the travesty that I was lamenting back in 2004 and 2005. Actually, now that I hope to enter into a business where I am providing a skill and service for various companies that then administer my wares as entertainment for an audience, I am now more likely to side with the athletes.
I can hear some of you screaming right now (okay, I can't really, unless you happen to be reading over my shoulder while I type this -- which thankfully you are not, because that is breaking and entering while also very creepy), "Christopher! How can you justify someone who plays baseball making millions and millions of dollars while a hard working teacher only gets $50,000 gross a year! It isn't fair!!!" I say to you, that 1) fair is a rather subjective term and 2) I think it is very fair. Oh yeah, and also please stop screaming in my ear.
I recognize that teaching is a highly skilled and extremely demanding profession. I know that teachers are expected to shape and mold many future generations, and that is a lot of responsibility. I went through teacher's college, and I know we are expected to do a lot more than what we get paid for. At the same time, teaching is far from the only profession where skilled labourers are expected to do more and are worth far more than they are paid. But I will also admit, when it comes to highly skilled labour that teachers probably are one of the least paid.
After saying all that, teachers don't deserve to get paid even close to what professional athletes are paid. If you lay it all out (which I plan to try), I'd say that a lot of the star athletes do get paid the amount of money they deserve (while others, alas, are significantly overpaid). I want to make it clear that I think teachers a lot of the time are under appreciated and there are really good teachers who deserve far more money considering the hours of work they put in(though there are probably some who are highly overpaid due to the opposite amount of effort and work they put in -- like most job environments really). The reality is, when complaining or fighting for teachers to get more pay, it isn't pro athletes that you should use as the example of being overpaid (as if it is their wages that are taking away from a teacher's earnings). The thing we need to all realize, is the athletes literally bring in the money that essentially pays for their wages, which you can't actually say for teachers.
You may not watch or like professional sports, but you must admit that it is a million dollar industry. For the next several months for every single Sunday, stadiums across the United States will be packed with close to 80 thousand paying fans each. Some of the highest watched events in television history are championship games like the Super Bowl, World Series or gold medal hockey finals (at least in Canada), which then can demand huge ad rates from sponsors. Sports merchandise brings in over millions of dollars a year, and this includes things like a player's sports jersey or a bobble head with a specific player's likeness. There are a lot of very rich people who can attribute their millions to owning a successful sports franchise. There is television networks, toy manufacturers, clothing companies, and countless businesses (and individuals) that rake in million upon millions of dollars thanks to professional sports. You can despise professional sports all you want, but the reality is, it makes a lot of people a lot of money.
But who is the main reason that this industry is worth millions and millions of dollars? Who is responsible for fans being willing to pay overly inflated hockey prices in order to enter the Air Canada Centre for a game? Who are the people that have made sports memorabilia or clothing stores such a massive success throughout the country? I'll give you a big hint, nobody would be watching any sports if it was just equipment laying on the field for two hours. You need people to play those sports. Here is the thing, I've heard folks tell me that the athletes shouldn't be making millions, because all they are doing is playing baseball or football or hockey, which are just kid games. I can't speak for everyone, but I can guarantee you that nobody would be willing to plunk down $60.00 to see me try to play hockey. We aren't just talking about some guys messing around for a few years, but we are talking about athletes you are the premier players in their given sport.
I appreciate teachers. I really do. On the other hand, I've never heard of a Grade 3 teacher being able to sell out an arena or stadium. I loved my Grade 12 English teacher, but there would be absolutely no way that I'd buy a $120.00 jersey with her names and chosen number on the back (or maybe it'd be a blouse?). If you discover that Mr. Spenkle, the biology teacher, was going to be teaching Grade 9s about cells live on NBC, then I've got a pretty good idea you'll be flipping around to find MythBusters. I don't know of any of my teachers that were able to land a contract with Wheaties or Nike as the spokesman. Teachers do work hard, but they don't create a million dollar industry. We aren't willing to pay to see them, or have clothes (or toys) with their likeness on them. They aren't stars.
Athletes make a lot of people a lot of money. They also have a lot of pressure on them. They need to stay in peak condition. They need to perform at a certain level. They are also deemed role models, so they have an added pressure on them (teachers have this pressure too, but not to the entire continent of children). It is a lot of work, and it is a career that can change in an instant. The mega star of one seasons, ends up being the washed up has been of the very next. But even if there wasn't those type of pressures, the biggest reality is that without them then there isn't a pro sports industry.
That is why as someone who wants to be a professional writer(and novelist), I completely support athletes making millions. The truth is, they deserve their cut. They are the workhouses and the reason the industry thrives. If tomorrow, people decide they don't like hockey or football anymore, and the players are competing in an empty arena, then I'd say they deserve to start looking for a career in fast food. Right now, that is not the case (nor is it likely to ever be). I do agree that some players are not carrying their end, and don't drive merchandise or ratings. This is not the issue I am addressing, but rather that as a whole, professional athletes deserve a large cut of the very revenue they are generating. If you are responsible for making people rich (such as creating a best selling novel), then you deserve your cut.
This is why athletes are and should be paid much more moolah than your teacher. It should be that way until teachers become the hottest stars in the country (and are fighting off autograph requests). Then again, the way television works now, I am sure there will be a hot new reality show starring elementary school teachers who teach while wearing their pajamas and juggling rabid wolverines. But until that billion dollar idea becomes a reality, I can't see any teacher who deserves the kind of money that Lebron James rolls in.
I'm sure this is a hot topic among some of you, so I'd love to hear your side and views on the matter. As always, if you like this article then be sure to stay around for awhile and check out (and comment) on some of my other random collection of words. Hey, bring along a friend and you can tag team me with your opinions and rage rants (fun for the whole family!),