Today while walking little Bear dog, I saw a car drive by flying four flags for my favorite hockey team. It got me thinking.
I am a strong supporter of free enterprise but the current rising interest in the likelihood that the Vancouver Canucks taking the 2011 Stanley Cup has me wondering again about our societal values.
Progressing to round three of the playoffs, the Canucks are constantly on the front page and fans are bombarded with statistics and information regarding the players. One bit of information that has always left me mystified about our values is how much the players are paid.
It seems we, as a society, feel such a sense of accomplishment in our favorite team being victorious that we feel they deserve vast sums of money to bring us that victory. I am not certain just where the sense of accomplishment comes from, it seems all the local grown boys play for the competition. Where sports competitions were initially (way back in the annuls of time somewhere around the start of the Olympic games in Greece), the best of each region vying for bragging rights, it is now simply whomever can buy the best talent. And we are willing to pay ridiculous sums of money for those bragging rights.
Don’t get me wrong, I get caught up on all this too and fly a Canucks flag from my car and have a jersey emblazoned with a Swedish player’s name that I wear on game day. I just wonder what it is that makes us think these entertainers are worth so much money. Fifty years from now will we be able to look back on the accomplishments of our entertainers and see how their efforts have moved society forward? I think not.
I have heard comments that their careers are likely going to be pretty short, maybe as few as four years. Does that mean we have to pay them more than the average person will earn in a lifetime in those four years? After hockey they can always get into another line of work. It’s not like it’s the only talent these men have, well maybe most of them. I have seen some go on to very lucrative careers in computers, sales, even franchise operations that have grown to be world-wide, Timmy. Many even venture in broadcasting where they continue to feel they deserve so much money. Just look at the ‘hangers on’, the announcers and colour men and other entertainers who wouldn’t have a job if it wasn’t for the players on the ice (or the grid-iron, pick your sport). I admit, I do enjoy a certain opinionated person who is known for the very colourful jackets he wears when he is on camera, but I will tell you this, I would miss my garbage man a whole lot more if he stopped showing up and there are certainly a lot less zeros on the end of his pay cheque. What makes these people think they are worth so much money? What makes us think they are worth it? Just because we continue to watch? There is just something wrong here in my mind.
It’s not like there is a shortage of talented players; what happened to supply and demand? Generally when there is an overabundance of supply, prices are lower. Our A and B league teams are full of skilled hockey players and that doesn’t take into account the myriad of other leagues throughout the country.
We don’t feel the need to pay our soldiers millions of dollars a year and yet they put their lives on the line every single day. We don’t pay our researchers (well, most of them anyway) millions of dollars per year and yet they are responsible for coming up with all sorts of things that make our lives better, longer, more rewarding.
It seems that too often we pay little regard to the people who really mean the most to us and shower all the credit onto those who simply give us brief escapes from reality, those whom we are told we should admire and love and make filthy rich.
I think we should think for ourselves and put our valuable dollars into the hands of those who make life valuable, not just fun. Maybe we all need to think about where the value in our lives really lies. I don’t think it would make competitive sports go away and I don’t think it would diminish the level of competition. It might, however, bring the in-arena experience to a much wider audience who be able to afford reasonably priced tickets.
I would love to hear your opinion.