Putting Our Money Where Our Priorities Are...

Earlier this week as I was paying attention to my social networks and ESPN, I couldn't help but to notice the thirteen year, two hundred million dollar deal that Houston Rockets guard James Harden signed with Adidas.  Already armed with a max contract with the Rockets, it's safe to say that Harden and his family are set for a life time.  Harden is even featured on the Forbes Thirty Under Thirty list.  And with the NBA's new salary cap rising another twenty-million dollars after next season because of a new tv deal, it's expected that many other talented players will cash in as well.  

I remember several years back amidst talk of a strike, how many people complained that athletes, and not just in the NBA, but in many other sports as well, were greedy and all about the money.  How could these men, who were already making millions of dollars, dare to ask for more money or think they deserve more.  

How could these men, who only dribble, catch, or hit a ball get paid more than teachers and public servants and think that wasn't enough?  Well I have a simple answer for that and it comes two fold.  The first part of the answer lies in how much they get paid in relation to team owners.  Team owners make billions, money hand over fist at the behest of the athletes who put their bodies on the line for them.  

On top of that we live in an era where these team owners who are also saavy business men, have made it so not only are they making money off their team and the athletes, but anytime they want a new stadium, they have managed to force many of the tax payers in the cities that they reside, to pay for these stadiums.  So overall, these owners are making billions of dollars and don't even have to come out of their pocket for their own stadiums.  Let's look at the case of the Milwaukee Bucks.  

Governor Walker signing the new Stadium Bill

Governor Walker signing the new Stadium Bill

Their owners have managed to get Governor Scott Walker to sign a contract to build the Bucks a new stadium which will see the tax payers pay roughly four million dollars annually to the team owners to build the stadium, while funding for Wisconsin state universities is being slashed.  This shows you where the priorities are in that deal and it certainly doesn't look like it lies in the realm of education or helping to provide affordable quality education to Wisconsin's constituents.  When comparing teacher and public servant salaries to that of pro athletes and how inflated an athlete's salary looks compared to those who are charged with public service jobs, take the aformentioned example for instance.  

The moment we as people wish to have taxes cut, which we all scream for, we don't take in account that the majority of these politicians that we elect, often decide to cut money from after school programs, education, and other public service institutions.  As long as we keep voting these folks in and not holding them accountable for these actions then how do we expect things to change?  We are showing politicians, educators, and other public service workers that we are okay with their low wages and jobs or salaries disappearing.

Jabari Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo , you can catch these boys in a new stadium soon!

Jabari Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo, you can catch these boys in a new stadium soon!

 If we want change, we have to be the change.  Another thing that we don't take into account when we compare these salaries is atheletes salaries come from the profits of the team.  Team profits come from a supplement of areas which include ticket prices, tv deals, endorsements, jersey and apparel sales, and concessions.  

So to put it simply, players wouldn't make millions of dollars if the teams couldn't afford to pay them these enourmous salaries.  And the teams are able to pay them enormous salaries because you, the consumer are willing to pay over one hundred dollars for tickets and apparel, and pay inflated fees for concessions.  As a result, teams see huge increases in profit which enable them to pay top dollar for the best players in search of a championship.  Let me ask you something, if your boss at your job offered you eighty million dollars over five years to do your job would you take it?  

I would! Essentially that's what these athletes are doing, capitalizing on their god given talent and prospering in life.  They aren't the ones to blame for their salaries nor should they be expected to not seek top dollar for their abilities.  If we want to start seeing their salaries decrease then stop paying high prices for their jerseys and apparel.  Stop paying for large ticket prices at arenas and paying twenty bucks or more for beverages and food.  

If we want to start seeing public servants and teachers get more, start lobbying our politicians to increase their wages.  Stop electing folks in office who will cut public servant benefits and jobs.  Let's begin to show teachers and other public servants their jobs and lively hood matter by putting our money where it counts, when it counts.  Let's put our money where our priorities should be.