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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014

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In Sports Commentary

The money paid to athletes has long been a sore spot for fans.

We love our overpaid athletes


I was driving somewhere last week listening to sports talk radio, and I heard a discussion that, if I had really thought about it, might have driven me off the road.

The hosts were talking about Brandon Jennings and his future with the Milwaukee Bucks. They were discussing salary possibilities and whether Jennings could get a "max" contract or have to settle for something less.

One host suggested Jennings could command $14 million a year and the other one said it would be a shorter contract at $13 million. Then the first host said that they were arguing about "only a million bucks."

Only a million bucks.

How crazy is the world when the figure one million dollars is preceded by the word "only?"

Overpaid athletes and stars are nothing new. I can't even get my arms around things like "millions." So in order to make me feel real bad, I tried to figure out what a paycheck looks like for some of these guys.

I figure each guy gets paid every two weeks, just like most of us. Also just like us, they have withholding. So I figured they pay the top marginal tax rate of 39.6 percent. Try to wrap your mind about these numbers.

Every two weeks when he picks up his check, Alex Rodriguez gets about $743,000. Every two weeks. Kobe Bryant gets a check for about $497,000. Every two weeks.

Mark Sanchez (proving money doesn't equal worth) opens his pay envelope and finds a check for $290,385. He does this every two weeks. To bring this a little closer to home, Carlos Lee picks up a check for $430,000 every two weeks unless he has direct deposit.

It's enough to make you want to throw up. I mean a number of years ago when I got my first bi-weekly check that was over $1,000 I thought I was going to be rich forever.

I honestly don't blame the players for the money they get. Who among us would turn down an offer to pay us absolutely obscene amounts of money? Nobody.

The people to blame for all of this are the filthy rich people who own sports teams. We don't have to create a list of the guilty parties here. Just about every owner is to blame for this horrible state of affairs.

This whole thing really makes me sad. I mean, we have lots of problems in this world that would benefit from an infusion of money. And yet we spend these mind-boggling amounts on professional athletes. Something is wrong somewhere.

I have no idea what to do about this, if anything at all can be done.

I thought about appointing another presidential czar with the power to regulate salaries, but the teams would likely beat back that effort in the courts.

I thought about hiring the guys who ran Barack Obama's first campaign to create a public groundswell that would result in a massive boycott that could force the restoration of some sanity. But even with sophisticated "Get Out The Vote" effort, I think most people love their sports too much to actually boycott them.

Which leaves us with what? Nothing. Our hands are tied. Athletes can take performance enhancing drugs, they can commit all sorts of mayhem, but as long as they can still run, jump, swing and hit harder than any of us, we will continue to flock to watch them do all this.

But we can still get sick to our stomach when we watch them at play.

Talkbacks

Photodavie | Feb. 19, 2013 at 12:40 p.m. (report)

Dave, you know what makes me sick? The thought that you get paid anything at all to write for this site.

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AndrewJ | Feb. 19, 2013 at 12:06 p.m. (report)

"...we have lots of problems in this world that would benefit from an infusion of money." Wait... I thought that's why Obama has the printing presses cranking out $$ at a record pace, to "infuse" money into the world and solve all the problems. Except for when a box of Macaroni and Cheese costs $7.50. Then we'll have a whole host of new problems.

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brewguru | Feb. 19, 2013 at 10:37 a.m. (report)

What is the point of this article? It's stupid. Athletes deserve every penny they earn. Take baseball, the Brewers drew almost 3 million fans last year at an average ticket price of $20 (approx). That's $60 million right there. Then, you throw in parking, concessions, souvenirs, etc. Throw in local TV and radio money. Add in the national TV contracts and other revenue streams (internet, Extra Innings, etc). Add it all up. What should they do with that money? Pocket it? (Yes, I know there are other expenses associated but you get the point). I got in this argument with a co-worker a few years ago. I told him he has no leg to stand on. If you can get 40,000 people to pay to watch you work every night, then you might have a point.

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jeffjay60 | Feb. 19, 2013 at 8:21 a.m. (report)

Dave while I may share your frustration, I have to agree with the previous contributor. It's like blaming the drug cartels for the drug use in America. I predict that we, the taxpayers, will be footing the majority of the bill for an arena, that not only will showcase the rich players, but attendance will only be affordable by the rich. Give me a good reason for that? And don't give me the economic version of trickle down benefits, I didn't believe that when Reagan was trying to sell it. And don't tell me they will move. If they do, relieve the tension on the door spring so it dosen't hit them in the backside

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HeySuburbia | Feb. 19, 2013 at 8:11 a.m. (report)

When the teams are making hundreds of millions of dollars why shouldn't the athletes be paid the way they are? If athlete salaries were $50,000 or $100,000 a year then all people would be complaining about is how much money the owners are making and how greedy they are. The athletes are the ones bringing in the money so I don't think these contracts are ridiculous at all, especially when you look at how long an average career of a professional athlete lasts.

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