Emphasis on Money Damages Professional Sports

Megan Freeman

Many pro athletes’ “love of the game” has morphed into a “love of the fame”

I don’t know about you, but I can think of a million better ways to spend $90,508,163 than to give it to Tiger Woods to fund his mistress hunt.  Yeah, that number is real.  Woods earned over $90.5 million in 2010, making him the highest paid athlete of that year.   He’s topped the list for practically a decade.  Even after a debilitating knee surgery and a reputation-shattering scandal, sponsors continue to use him to endorse their products, and Woods walks away with a bursting wallet.
Between salaries and endorsements from corporations eager to have an athlete spokesperson, athletes nowadays are receiving record-breaking amounts of cash.  To put it into perspective, in 2010, Kobe Bryant earned about $33.1 million, Alex Rodriguez earned about $37 million, and LeBron James earned almost $45.8 million.  The average American makes $46,000 a year.
Sports these days are all about money, and not just at the professional level.  Money-tainted philosophies have penetrated college sports as well, particularly big football schools.
Take, for example, the USC football program. While star running back Reggie Bush played for the team, USC allegedly gave the player $290,000 in gifts, and improper benefits (including a house in suburban San Diego) to his parents as well.  These violations landed the team a two-year postseason ban and resulted in Bush’s forfeit of the Heisman trophy.
It isn’t just individuals who are to blame for the ridiculous emphasis on money in sports.  The schools themselves are to blame as well.  Tickets to the recent BCS College Football National Championship cost up to $5,000 or more—much too expensive for the average college student.  Instead, thousands of students from Auburn and Oregon stayed at home, huddling around TV sets, cheering their teams from afar.  While I understand that a portion of ticket sales profits go to the universities, college students should still be able to attend their own teams’ sporting events.
I’m not opposed to paying athletes well, as most work very hard, are incredibly talented and deserve to be paid for that.  But pouring obscene amounts of money into certain individuals who happen to be blessed with the ability to hit a ball with a stick or put it through a hoop…that just doesn’t make sense.
Even President Obama commented on America’s overblown obsession with athletics in his State of the Union Address.
“We need to teach our kids that it’s not just the winner of the Super Bowl who deserves to be celebrated, but the winner of the science fair,” said Obama, emphasizing that Americans tend to idolize brawn over brains.
As long as we continue to fawn over sports, more important subjects get shunted to the side in our daily lives, and athletes’ salaries climb ever higher.
What I’m trying to say is, where has the purity of sports gone?  It seems that athletes don’t stay in sports so much for the love of the game, but rather the love of the salary.  There is too much emphasis on money and not enough emphasis on sportsmanship.  The bottom line is that sports are only a game, and people seem to be forgetting that.