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a silent salute: The audience "claps" at Joke Night during Deaf Awareness week. Click Arts&Life for a link to story. / Photo by Leah Lopshire

Today's word on journalism

December 15, 2008

As part of my own personal "war on Christmas" (which a Utah state senator has offered legislation to outlaw), the WORD celebrates the season by going on hiatus until January. May all out days be merry and bright, and here’s to a safe, healthy and saner New Year. HoHoHo!

Empty Minds: "Of all the people expressing their mental vacuity, none has a better excuse for an empty head than the newspaperman: If he pauses to restock his brain, he invites onrushing deadlines to trample him flat. Broadcasting the contents of empty minds is what most of us do most of the time, and nobody more relentlessly than I."

--Russell Baker, Pulitzer-winning columnist

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Feedback and suggestions --printable and otherwise --always welcome. "There are no false opinions."

Money thrown at professional sports is outrageous

By Craig Morris

November 21, 2008 | I am an avid NBA and NFL fan, but who isn't, right? I go see the Jazz play whenever I can, and I spend countless hours on the couch on Sunday watching football. I join fantasy leagues in both and spend whatever free time I have tracking my favorite players and building dominant fantasy teams.

Over the years it has only bothered me slightly how much money goes into something that is so inconsequential. Especially at a time like this when there isn't exactly a shortage of important things to spend money on.

Did you know that the average professional athlete makes anywhere from $200,000 to $1.2 million a year? Take into consideration that some of the perennial superstars make more like $50 to $100 million a year as well. How many people could afford better lives with even a small fraction of that money?

It isn't just the teams that are paying these players either. Most of the highest paid athletes make the bulk of their money from endorsements. Companies all over the world pay these celebrities just to put their name, or face, on a product. Millions, even billions, of dollars are spent each year to athletes when they star in commercials or wear a certain brand.

What slays me the most is when I see people like Terrell Owens of Chad "Ocho Cinco" Johnson holding out, or complaining about the millions they make not being enough. The audacity of athletes to come back and complain about contracts that they have already signed doesn't sit well with me.

Sometimes complaints about money get so out of control that the entire league will band together and strike. They shut down the season and don't play the games because these prima donnas want to buy a few more fancy imports. Could you imagine if teachers across the whole country just refused to go to school and teach if they didn't get paid more? Cancel school for the year and say to hell with education. The idea is inconceivable.

But we [they] continue to give them there every demand as if life will not go on if we can't watch baseball for a couple of months. If it were up to me, at the time of strike I would pick up all the minor league players and ex-college players that are willing to play for less just because they love the game. Show the stars a thing or two.

So, we know that athletes are overpaid. What about the building they play in? No need to wonder why tickets to sporting events cost $35 for the bad seats when you consider that the new Oklahoma Thunder's arena costs $500 million. This is not even the most expensive of stadiums, not even close. In New York, where they already had perfectly functional stadiums, they built a new Yankee Stadium and Citi Field for the Mets at a cost of $1.3 billion a piece. All three of the aforementioned facilities are being built right now, or just finished being built. No wonder why the economy is struggling. Unreal amounts of money are being poured into the entertainment industry. Use some of that money to fund the banks that are going to collapse in the near future.

Numbers at this point are just estimated, but taxpayers in the greater New York area will cover upwards of $300 million just to build each stadium, not to mention transportation taxes that they will also be forced to cover.

Forced is probably the wrong word as voters were given the option to build it or not. The craziest thing is that after residents in these areas pay taxes to cover most of the stadium, they will still have to pay large sums of money to go and watch these teams play. Even more money sent the way of the players and teams. As long as fans are willing to pay big money to attend games and voters continue to support the proposals, they will continue to rebuild or upgrade sports venues.

These are not the only facilities to be built in the near future. Los Angeles Football Stadium is supposed to be finished by 2011, the cost: a mere $800 million, which is actually substantially lower than the cost of most football stadiums. No way to know when the onslaught will cease, but the outlook is bleak.

Unless the last thing you want to do before China takes over our country is watch Monday Night Football, then get up and do something about it.


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