School more important than big sports salaries

Published 6:00 am Thursday, December 14, 2000

“Nobody’s worth that much money to play a game.”

From Babe Ruth’s $20,000 salary many years ago to the latestround of multi-million dollar player signings, that phrase orsomething like it has been uttered. But, it hasn’t slowed teamowners from shoveling more money at sports stars and pushing thehighest-salary figure even higher.

One wonders, though, if the 10-year, $252 million contract AlexRodriguez signed earlier this week with the Texas Rangers will bethe summit of this spending excess. While Nolan Ryan’s $1 million ayear salary in 1980 seems small in comparison 20 years later, it’shard to imagine a quarter of a billion dollars being a mere blip onthe radar at any point in the future.

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Our concern is not with Rodriguez. After all, other players arereceiving multi-million contracts and, with his talent, whyshouldn’t he?

Concerns arise over the system and the messages it sends.

The hefty salaries of Rodriguez and other players will alleventually be paid for sports fans, either directly through higherticket, concessions and parking costs, or indirectly through suchthings as higher prices of products advertised at ballparks orduring televised games. How high do these have to go before fanssay enough is enough?

Another concern is the unrealistic dreams the escalatingsalaries help fuel in young people. “I’m going to play in the pros,so why should I worry about math, science, history or any of thatother stuff?” some of the young and gifted think.

Simple math reveals only a scant few of these young people evenhave a chance of playing past the high school level. Yet the moneyand fame of pro sports keep their dreams, however far-fetched,alive.

Aside from a momentary diversion, ‘hitting a piece of rawhidewith a stick’ contributes nothing to society.

Teachers, doctors, nurses and a variety of other professions do.Young people should follow in those footsteps instead of those oftheir favorite athletes.

There’s nothing wrong with giving Junior a ball for Christmas.It just needs to be replaced with a pencil or piece of chalk whenthe school bell rings.