ESPN Salary Crunch

I stumbled upon this link on’s site earlier this week. The premise is this: they’ve taken a handful of the most lucrative recent contracts in sports, then averaged those annual salaries against the individual’s notable statistics. The fun part is this – you enter a salary in the calculator and it tells you how long, per statistical category, it takes that particular player to make what you make in an entire year. Have fun with it here (by the way, Mark Teixeira has the biggest annual salary, so his number’s are the most ridiculous).

Just for instance, let’s take $50,000 as a salary.

Mark Teixeira makes that every (he’s the 1st baseman for the NY Yankees):

  • .39 hits
  • 1.28 at bats (he gets 3-5 at bats per game
  • .07 home runs
  • .27 RBI

And if you make $50,000 a year, it will take you 450 years to earn what Teixeira pulls down in just 1.

I don’t have one cohesive point regarding this, but I will share a few bulleted thoughts.

  • From a fiscal perspective, these athletes are worth what they make. Before you argue, this is what I mean: in a free-market economy the market (i.e., the consumers) essentially sets prices and value. Baseball owners, athletic directors, etc., aren’t idiots. They’ve been doing this for a while and each have general managers and economists who are extremely proficient at what they do. They know how much they make, and they know how much signing Mark Teixeira or Pete Carrol is worth in terms of dollars made. My point – they don’t often pay someone an amount of money that they won’t recoup in revenue brought in because of that player/coach. The same principle could be said for movie stars, TV stars, musicians, etc.
  • Are you a little (or a lot) angry when you look at the numbers these people make? I am. But we must remember that we’re part of the reason for this. Peyton Manning, Ray Lewis, Kurt Warner, and Drew Brees make millions of dollars per year in part because I have ordered my day to ensure I’ll be watching them play this afternoon and evening. They’re entertainers and I like to be entertained. So we can’t entirely cast the blame elsewhere. And why am I really angry? My hunch is that I’m probably angry largely due to envy of what they have that I don’t. I can act like it’s because I stand for certain principles, but I’m far too sinful for it not to have something to do with simple jealousy.
  • But it does point to the fact that we live in a culture obsessed with entertainment. Think of the amount of money and time spent in the entertainment industry. Movies, television, TV commercials, sporting events, etc. This entertainment-obsessed culture results in many of the things we despise such as bloated salaries, gossip TV shows and periodicals, paparazzi, etc. But our desire for entertainment and these hated cultural phenomena are inter-related. The reason that Tiger Woods is as popular as he is (or was) and makes the amount of money that he does is the exact same reason all the vultures were circling when he was caught in scandal.
  • The next question is the most important one, yet it is much more difficult to answer than simply making cultural observations. Why are we so entertainment obsessed? Part of the answer is probably that we are prone to laziness and gluttony. We can often be undisciplined in our time spending hours being entertained by blankly staring at our flat-screen TVs. And we are notoriously gluttonous. We love to take good things (like entertainment) and over-indulge in them. Entertainment is clearly no different. Do we use it as an escape from mundane life? Do we like to look up to celebrities and athletes because something in us is designed to hero-worship (I think that we are designed in this way…but we often worship the wrong hero)?

There’s my random thoughts for the weekend. Hopefully they’re of some value.

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