Do you hear that? That faint noise in the distance?
Well, that’s Alex Rodriguez, formerly of the New York Yankees, laughing all the way to the bank as he prepares to sign a new contract somewhere in the region of $35 million a year. Yeah, that’s right.35 million dollars to play baseball for one year. Now multiply that over the eight to ten year contract he will receive sometime within the next few weeks, and you have about $350 million. That is a whole lot of money.
A-Rod isn’t complaining though, because after he gets this contract, he’ll be able to buy his own…well, whatever he wants really. Probably a private jet to fly to his private island. The possibilities are endless.
His new contract will be unlike anything seen in financial sport’s history. But for what? To play the sport he loves for the summer? It seems a bit ridiculous that athletes get this kind of compensation, doesn’t it?
Unfortunately, that’s the way of the world these days, especially in the United States. Karl Marx once said that religion is the opiate of the masses. Today, it’s switched somewhat interestingly to sports. Our nation’s population is totally obsessed and enamored with sports on all levels, and because of this, the industry has grown to immense proportions, with no signs of slowing down.
Over the past 10 years, salaries in baseball have doubled from an average of $1.8 million to $3.6 million. Total team payroll, which was topped by the Yankees in 1997 with a total of $59 million have gone up 325% to this year’s top team, which unsurprisingly is the Yankees again at a whopping $189 million.
These numbers are astronomical when you compare them to the salaries given to other professions out there, professions that in many eyes are more honorable and needed. But the money and the business is in baseball and the rest of the pro sports, which won’t surprise many people.
The real sad thing about all this is that A-Rod can command this type of money, and he’s easily going to get it and probably more if it comes to two or more teams bidding for him. It must really be nice to be in that position. He’s playing the sport he loves for a living, granted at a very high level, but being able to set a price that high and have teams fight over him.
It does go beyond baseball though. In Europe, Formula One Racing is one of the most lucrative and most-watched sports, with their top racer Fernando Alonso making $40 million last season. The most famous racer, Michael Schumacher hauls in an estimated $80 million a year with endorsements, second only to kingly golfer Tiger Woods who is about to break the $100 million a year mark.
The real question about all this is whether it’s greed that these athletes are succumbing too, or is it just they are the benefactors of an industry and a culture that has exploded over the last ten years or so.
In A-Rod’s case, I think it’s greed. Not only did he opt out of the final three years of his current contract, that would have paid him $75 million, he announced the decision, through his ruthless agent Scott Boras, on national television during game four of the World Series.
Making the announcement the way he did totally upstaged the majesty of the World Series and took away from the celebration of it’s eventual champions, the Boston Red Sox, who won the crown that night by completing the sweep of the Colorado Rockies. The act and the way it was done caused a fervor in the baseball community which resulted in a demanded apology from A-Rod’s people.
As far as the rest of the athletes out there, it’ a mixed situation. Some seem like genuinely good people who feel honored to play their sport and get paid for it (Tiger Woods, the entire NHL). But at the same time, pro sports are filled with whiny spoiled athlete’s who don’t realize how good they have it (A-Rod, the entire NBA), and it’s only going to get worse.
You’re always told that money isn’t everything, but to a vast majority of professional athletes out there, it really and truly is.