A “rant” by KIN 6300 student Tyler Orr
It’s a controversial topic these days, the ‘exploitation’ of athletes and the commodification of human beings as nothing more than assets to be bought, traded, and discarded as soon as their useful skills diminish. But is it that big of a deal? I mean, it is usually ‘run of the mill’ ‘average joes’ that have a problem with the whole concept of athletes being ‘used’ for their athletic prowess for our entertainment. Very rarely do you hear the successful professional athlete complaining about being the face of a franchise. That’s what he/she has worked for their entire lives! With that responsibility comes great reward, not only are they compensated handsomely, but there are certain societal perks of being the QB of the packers, or the goalie for the Canadiens. Do you think Aaron Rogers has ever been turned down when asking for some nice looking young ladies phone number? What about when Carey Price gets pulled over for not signalling when switching lanes headed to the Molson Center, does the cop give him the business, or ask for an autograph and a picture and send him on his way promptly and happily?
What’s the downside to the professional athlete’s time as an ‘asset’ you might ask. It is easy for people outside the sports industry to say athletes are set up for future financial failure and that most end up broke and bankrupt within years of their retirement. Even if an athlete retires from football and spends 3 million dollars in 2 years and has nothing else saved up, so what?! That’s 3 million dollars he wouldn’t have had if he hadn’t put in the work to become a professional athlete. Are critics of sports saying that only athletes savvy enough to maintain their monetary wealth post retirement are those that should be permitted to enter professional leagues? That doesn’t make any sense!
Professional sports leagues, like many other for-profit enterprises, are result based businesses. I had a high school friend who signed with the NY Jets after a successful College career and a couple good years in the CFL. As he signed his NFL contract the legendary Bill Parcels shook his hand in congratulation and said ‘”welcome to the NFL son, now is the day we look to replace you with someone cheaper”. I think the world could be a better place if mainstream business were run in more the same way. If a banker or insurance broker didn’t produce what was expected, he/she could be replaced with another person willing and eager to do the job. Could you imagine?! The world of business operating with more accountability and more incentive to perform or be demoted or replaced? It would be interesting, wouldn’t it?
Maybe just maybe we can learn a lesson from the cut-throat world of professional sports. Find something we enjoy getting really, really good at and take it seriously. Be upset when your boss won’t give you that high profile case or your idea isn’t used in the presentation. Professional athletes sure are assets, and as such drive their industry to higher and higher standards of performance and dedication. You and I can strive to assets valued in our respective fields and frankly I don’t see why we aren’t motivated to do so.