"Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel"

My new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" is the follow-up to "Illegal Procedure" and "Roughing the Passer" and is now available in print and in e-formats at amazon.com, smashwords.com and iBooks. Follow me on twitter @kevinkrest.

Monday, May 16, 2016

HOW CAN WE JUSTIFY $1 MILLION TO PLAY ONE BASEBALL GAME?

How Are High Sports Salaries Justifiable? We have teachers paying for their own school supplies, clergy working second jobs at Home Depot, public safety officers moonlighting as security guards, and this is all just to be able to do their jobs effectively or provide a living for their families. This season alone, over 30 major league baseball players will earn in excess of $20,000,000 on the field. Zack Greinke of the Arizona Diamondbacks will make over $34 million to pitch in thirty games, and that's if he reaches the postseason. That equates to over $1,000,000 every time he steps on the mound. As an avid sports fan with an undergraduate degree in economics and an MBA in marketing, I certainly understand how free markets work and that the money being thrown around in major league sports is generally attributed to supply and demand. But there is always a point where circumstances begin to border on the ridiculous. I'm not in support of the income inequality notions that are thrown around in this year's political election cycle, but if there are taxpayer funds being used to further the income of billionaires who can't seem to reign in their own egos, then something can and should be done about it. The same holds true for tax breaks or incentives provided to sports franchises to stay in or relocate to a particular municipality. If Jerry Jones, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys wants to spend $1 billion to build his own stadium, good for him. But if his team plays in someone else's publicly supported stadium, then he's still a party, indirectly through his participation in the NFL, of benefiting from tax funds.

This is probably more of a societal issue than one confined to the world sports. Entertainers such as Beyonce make an insane amount of money, Wall Street traders can make bonuses in the eight figure range and even lottery winners get a huge chunk of cash for doing nothing more than buying a ticket. But since my focus is generally on sports, I'll confine my comments to that arena. I'm not really calling for legislation or government intervention, but more the recognition on the part of our society that there may be better and more humanitarian ways to use billions of dollars. It's amazing what we could do with that amount of funding if we just cut sports salaries in half. I find it hard to believe that Greinke would quit the game if his contract was only for $17 million a season or that Nick Saban would find another line of work if he was only earning a paltry $3 million to coach football. What I'm calling for is that people examine for themselves the actual value of supporting, whether it's through ticket sales, direct contributions or the purchase of advertised goods and services, the high salaries for players and coaches.

I'm not giving the PGA Tour a pass here either. They flaunt how much money is given to charity, but they're only able to do that because the local events are staffed by primarily volunteer workers that devote a week of their lives to the cause due to the charity contributions. The Tour, which yesterday concluded their signature event, the Players, was bragging about the $75 million that they've given to local charities since the event was started in 1974. By my math, that's roughly $1.8 million a year. The purse alone for last weekend's tourney was over $10 million. So that's $10 million for the players, a couple of  million for the charities and $0 for the volunteers, except for discounted food and passes to the tournament. It's undisclosed the amount that was left over to line the coffers of the Tour itself. What other business gets to thrive and pay it's performers millions while the majority of the help works for charity, most of which just ends up being a nice tax write-off? Don't get me wrong, at least the PGA tour is giving to charities that are in desperate need for the funds. But I'm not naive enough to think that the first check written is to the deserving organizations.

I would like to see a more aware public and sports culture start to stand up and demand a more rational and realistic use of these billions of dollars. Because ultimately, whether it's through increased prices to pay for advertising which pays for rights fees which go to the sports organizations, or higher cable bills to pay for rights fees which go to the sports organizations, or...Anyway, you get my point. We're paying for it in some way, and the only way to stop it is to stop paying. I'd really love to see a weekend where no one goes to a game and no one watches an event so that the people in charge understand who is really, ultimately and totally in control. Without fans paying for tickets or corporation paying for advertising and luxury suites, there isn't any money, or at least not enough to pay Zack Greinke $1,000,000 a game.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" and my first two, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel" and "Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel", available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and SmashwordsTune into www.WPFLRADIO.com at 8:40 am EST every Friday for my Beyond the Commentary segment on "Lou in the Morning" with Lou Vickery and Jonathan McMath.