Wednesday, December 10, 2008

But They're Professionals!

I've never been much of a sports fan. The only sport I've really gotten into was professional football, and then, usually only the Packers. And even then, I was more of a passive fan. I couldn't rattle off stats of any of the players, even Favre. I enjoyed watching the games, screaming at the TV, and wondering if the refs were blind and/or paid off. Probably like most people do, I imagine.

One of the sports I've grown to actually dislike is baseball.

I attended a few games at the old County Stadium, usually on opening day, or for some party. I didn't go for the game as much as the socializing with some friends. But when the talk started that County Stadium was too old, didn't have enough amenities, etc., and that a new stadium needed to be built, I was turned off by the whole thing. Especially when there was so much debate about the stadium tax, and TOMMY! came up with his infamous "Stick it to 'em" comment.

At that time, I was working in child welfare, and had seen first hand how the state was short-changing Milwaukee County, because money was "too tight" to be wasted on something as trivial as social services. I remember getting royally pissed off that they could raise taxes to build a glorified ball yard worth hundreds of millions of dollars, for multimillionaire players and the extremely wealthy Selig family, but couldn't afford to take care of our own children.

I swore to myself that I would not step foot into Miller Park, and I haven't. Nor do I plan to.

Anyway, whilst I was driving around tonight, doing my errands, I happened to have 620 WTMJ on, and there was Bill Michaels, their sports guy, talking about how the New York Yankees just signed CC Sabathia for a huge contract, that comes to be about $23 million dollars a year. Michaels was going on about this, trying to rationalize it, and pointing out that some players were paid $18 million or more, and that they had a really bad year.

All I could do was shake my head. I'm sorry, but I cannot imagine anyone being worth $23 million or $18 million per year, just to play baseball. I don't follow baseball, but from what I've heard by the water cooler and saw in the paper, I guess this Sabathia is a really good pitcher. So what? He plays a game! He only pitches every five games or so. With time off between series and the mid-season break, he probably only plays once, maybe twice in a week. And that's if he doesn't get hurt.

The other pro sports are just as bad. Favre is still one of my favorite players. He is arguably one of the best players football has ever seen, but is he really worth all of those millions of dollars a year to just play a game?

Actors and actresses and musicians are just as bad. Some actors and actresses are pulling in tens of millions of dollars per movie or TV season. Sure, they might be entertaining, and are good at pretending, but are they worth all of that money?

And don't get me even started on the big CEOs who get millions in salaries, and millions more in bonuses, just so that they can drive their respective companies into the ground, and then beg Congress for a bailout.

Meanwhile, there are real professionals that don't get paid nearly enough. There are police officers who go to work everyday not knowing if they will ever come home again. Yet, most of them don't get paid anywhere near what they deserve. They get to hear cracks about eating donuts or being just a tool to raise revenue for a city or a county. They get told that they can't get raises or have the proper protective gear, because that would mean Joe Taxpayer might have to dish out another 15 cents in taxes each year. The same Joe Taxpayer that thinks nothing of paying $100 per ticket to a football game.

If the worst thing happens, and a law enforcement officer is killed in the line of duty, there is a large amount of hand wringing and demands that something has got to be done. That lasts a day or two, and then it fades from everyone's mind, except for the family that is missing their loved one.

The same could be said for firefighters, correction officers, and yes, even social workers. They go to work everyday in jobs that require a lot of training and expertise, but are often denied a wage or respect that would be more in line with what they mean to society.

After all, we can't just go around raising taxes so that there are cops on the street to fight crime or prison guards to watch over the criminals that the police catch. We can't raise taxes so that the firefighters have sufficient numbers in their squads or the best gear around. And the thought of raises taxes for a bunch of social workers so that they can actually do their jobs and protect the vulnerable, the mentally ill, the children, the elderly, well, to raise taxes for them is just madness.

After all, that extra five or ten dollars we spend on taxes to support these people takes money out of our pockets. Then we can't go and buy that large foam "We're #1" foam hand with the finger pointing out when we go to the stadium or arena, to watch multimillionaires play games.

The only thing I can't figure out is that is this a reflection of how screwed up the free market has gotten or of how screwed up we have gotten.


  1. Would you say the same thing about actors and singers? How about writers? And journalists/TV personalities?
    CC and Favre possess a talent no one else posses. They should be compensated accordingly. Social workers, teachers and others are a dime a dozen, so to speak. Would I like to be paid more, but there are more of me than there are Brett Favre's in the world.

  2. Dan,

    Read the post, I included actors and musicians. They're overpaid as well.

    Yes, Favre has a rare skill, but what purpose does it serve the community. Will he save a life by throwing a long touchdown? Will he prevent a crime with a good pass action play?

    Teachers, cops, firefighters are much more important and serve a vital role to the community, and should be recognized as such.

  3. "Yes, Favre has a rare skill, but what purpose does it serve the community"
    First, the obvious, Favre gives money back to the community through donations, volunteer work and through taxes. Favre's taxes alone pay for some cops and firefighters and maybe a teacher or 2. So yes, he does prevent crime through his taxes.
    Second, Favre provides entertainment. A world without entertainment would be a pretty boring place.
    3rd, His employer is willing to give him the money because of his unique ability. I'm sorry, but there are millions of teachers, cops and firefighters. We are not unique, in the general sense.
    4th. Have you ever bought anything that is unique. Of course you have, starting with your house up North. The house really doesn't benefit the community (except with your taxes and reconstruction/repair costs you have recently incurred) So why should you have your little getaway? Except it provides you entertainment and comfort, which is what Favre or any other entertainer does.

  4. You defeat your own argument. He pays taxes to pay the cops, but it is the cops putting their lives on the line, not Favre.

    As for entertainment, there are a lot of ways to be entertained with sports that don't cost millions or tens of millions of dollars. There's amateur football for people that just want to play for the sake of the game. And for what I pay in taxes, heating bills, electricity, and all of these bloody repair bills Favre makes in about two minutes of play time. One year for me, two minutes for him.

    Furthermore, if Favre screws up, the worst that happens is he loses a game. If a cop, firefighter or social worker screws up, someone dies. That should put it in better perspective for you.

  5. So, you think people are going to watch amateur football? How many people go to high school football games. at most, a few thousand. Would they ever sell out Camp Randall? Lambeau field. Not the last time I looked.
    Jealousy is a very bad thing, capper.

  6. I'm not jealous. I don't think I deserve millions of dollars. I just think that society's priorities are f'ed up when a guy playing a game makes megabucks, and a cop or a teacher who actually makes a difference in the world gets shat upon.

  7. I think the UAW at the Big 3 are over paid and their wages and benefits should be cut.
    And yes, capper, I think you deserve a million dollars a year. You provide more entertainment than most actors in Hollywood. Good luck getting it, though.