Professional athletes and bloated salaries: a modest proposal

Sports fans, I’m proud to say that I am one of you. I’m a huge advocate of American football, both NFL and NCAA. I cheer on my Sun Devil football team, rain or shine. Major League Baseball is something else I couldn’t live without. I follow the Seattle Mariners and Arizona Diamondbacks more than I’d like to admit.

Collegiate and professional sports are a great outlet for many things. Sports provoke activity, encourage school spirit, promote region loyalty and, most importantly, generate revenue for schools and local businesses. In some cases, sports teams are the staple of a town’s traffic flow and commerce.

But should being an athlete on one of these teams be a high paying profession?

Let me be more specific. Should professional athletes in this country be paid as much as they do? Absolutely not.

To be blunt, no one should ever be paid five million dollars to put a basketball in a hoop. It’s a game for crying-out-loud. When a mediocre quarterback’s salary is more than the amount of money I’ll make in my entire lifetime, I’m pretty elated to see him get sacked for a loss of ten yards and four broken ribs.

Something is messed up socially when the people who play games for a living make more money than the people who educate future generations of citizens or the men and women who serve our nation.

I do, therefore, humbly offer an alternate proposal. If people want to play sports for a living, let them. But I propose a new method of monetary gain.

Instead of starting the season with a salary of $5,000,000, they begin the season with $0.00. With every successful maneuver in their respective sports they make, they earn a fraction of their salary. For instance, for every yard a running back carries the ball for a positive gain, he makes $5. For every basket in the NBA, a similar gesture of $10 or so will be rewarded. This would include actions like complete passes for quarterbacks and penalty shots from the key in basketball.

 

Of course, things like 3-point shots, two-point conversions and RBIs count for cash bonuses.

A “pay for play” method, if you will.

This will not only increase the competitive nature of sports in our country, but it will also encourage a wider range of power players! All stars like Dwyane Wade and Miguel Cabrera would put their guards up for top spots or they’ll lose cents on the dollar. If players don’t deliver the quality sport, they don’t receive the money. This is their profession, after all.

Similarly, for every penalty flag thrown, players’ salaries will be cut. For things like “unnecessary roughness,” “red cards” and “personal fouls,” players can kiss one percent of their salary goodbye. A new era of sporting will be born where players fight harder for risky plays, but are on a new level of caution for safety.

It’s a complicated system of owners, franchises and stadiums, I know. But as it stands right now, athletes are being paid gratuitous salaries whether they complete their jobs or not. The only other professions on the planet that operate that way are lawyers, politicians and doctors. I’ll take the liberty and speak for everyone: playing with a basketball and staying fit isn’t important for the progression of our country. Bar none.

Am I saying that playing sports is easy? No. Am I saying that professional sports shouldn’t exist? Absolutely not. What should we consider? A country that funnels its money into more productive categories of professionals is a far better proposal.

Reach the columnist at mschan1@asu.edu or follow the columnist on Twitter @MorganSukotto.