Take me out to the … bank

Jan 5th
Posted by shambo  as basketball, boxing, Golf, Nascar, Sports



Let me say this about that.

Twenty years ago, I saw a cartoon in the newspaper¬†that depicted¬†a father scolding his son who he caught studying a¬†mathematics text book.¬† The caption read:¬† “Put down that text book, go outside and practice your jump shot”.¬† The point of the cartoon, of course, was a tongue-in-cheek reference to the salaries of athletes versus the rest of us¬†who required an education to earn a living.¬† At the time I thought it was a bit far-fetched at best, and at worst, could send a wrong message to kids facing a choice¬†between studying hard in preparation for getting a job¬†- or -¬† putting all their energies into trying to¬†make it as a professional athlete.

What a dumbass I was.

In the twenty-first century, professional athletes¬†have become¬†the ‘samurai’ of American society.¬† They are rich, they are famous, they are (generally) above the law, and their asses are¬†Frenched-kissed by…¬†¬†¬† politicians.¬† But,¬†the thing I despise most about professional athletes is ….¬†they don’t pay their own bar tabs.¬† It’s downright un-American.

The earning power of professional athletes today is light-years beyond where it was when I first saw that cartoon.¬† In those days, only a hand full of super-stars were able to combine salary and endorsement income to become millionaires.¬† Today – it’s commonplace.

A couple of months ago Sports Illustrated magazine published their list of the fifty highest paid athletes¬†in 2008(salary, winnings and endorsement income).¬† It’s almost beyond belief.¬† The five highest paid athletes¬†combined to make¬†just over $300,000,000.00 in 2008.¬† If you normalize this earnings figure over the forty-hour work week worked by most normal folks, the average salary of these top five athletes amounts to about $30,000.00/hr.

$30,000.00 an hour !!!

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that the average American earns $39,509/year.¬† To make a comparison between the average American worker’s income and the average income¬†of these top five professional athletes, you could put it like this:

The professional athlete works one hour and twenty minutes to earn the same money as you or I would by working a full year.

Closer scrutiny of these top five professional athlete ‘money-machines’ reveals that two are golfers (Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson), two are¬†basketball players (Lebron James and Kobe Bryant) and one is a¬†boxer (Floyd Mayweather).¬† Interestingly, Floyd Mayweather earned half of¬†his $40,000,000 income in 2008 in a single boxing match with Ricky Hatton (who the hell is Ricky Hatton anyway?).¬† Mayweather beat Hatton in a technical knock-out in the tenth round of their fight to earn his $20,000,000.¬† To put it more simply, Mayweather worked less than thirty minutes to earn $20,000,000.¬† Or, if you want to put it in terms that is comparable to the average American worker, Mayweather earned just over $40 million/per hour that night.

Not bad for an obscure fighter in an obscure sport facing an unknown opponent.

If you continue down the list of Sports Illustrated’s fifty highest paid athletes, it gets even more bizarre.¬† Take number 11, for example.¬† Dale Earnhardt, Jr earned $27,000,000 in 2008 as NASCAR’s most highly compensated driver.¬† What’s so odd about that, you ask?¬† Earnhard¬†won only¬†a single race in 2008 for a winning percentage of 2.8%.¬† Where else can you succeed less that three percent of the time and earn $27,000,000?

So, boys and girls, what have we learned today?  I think the single most important thing we have learned in all this is that: 

“Life Ain’t Fair”.

And, that’s all I have to say about that.



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