This subject came up during dinner with my fiancée and a friend the other night at Pizza Hut. SportsCenter was on and the talking heads were lamenting as to how much certain athletes were only getting paid.
If we had taken a vote we would have all voted in the "appalled" category, for sure. "It's just not right," said my friend Lisa. "It's ridiculous!" chimed in my fiancée Gail.
Well, it made me do a little investigatin'.
Did you know that professional athletes average $3.9 million per year? This is an average of the average salaries of basketball, baseball, hockey and football players.
The NBA leads in salaries with an average of $5.15 million per player. Baseball is next with an average salary of $3.31 million; hockey slides in next at $2.4 million and football passes for a lowly $1.9 million per player average.
All this to play games we mostly all have played at one time or another. Well, maybe not so much hockey in the south. But you do get where I'm going, right?
My brain screams, "No! Where is the fairness and justice in this?"
Where is the sanity in this? I know, I'm asking a lot of questions, but I am truly incredulous that this happens.
Where is the justice? Did you know that the average salary of a school teacher in Georgia is $48,300? And for the most part, we expect them to buy many of their own supplies out of that salary, as well.
In South Dakota, teachers receive an average of only $34,709. These totals are according to the teacherportal.com webpage.
These are the people who teach our kids. These are role models for our kids. Many of these teachers may be the most important people our children ever meet or deal with.
Do we not care enough about our kids to ensure we pay their teachers what they are truly worth? Is it more important to pay that ball player hundreds of thousands of dollars more than our children's teachers?
Well, if you find that hard to believe, what about our police officers and firefighters? Men and women who literally put their lives on the line every day they go to work.
The salary.com website shows the average nationally for a law enforcement officer to be $50,087, while a firefighter earns even less at $41,886 per annum. I don't have the figures but I'm pretty sure their pay is much less in our area.
I know some of these salaries may look like a lot compare to most of us, but still, don't we have our priorities screwed up? Just a little, maybe?
These folks are all under the umbrella of being a public servant, but very important servants to our future and well-being.
I love watching sports as much as the next person. I was a sportswriter for many years. But still, I can't quite wrap my brain around why athletes are worth so much.
What would happen if they all went away? I mean what if professional sports just disappeared? Would we dry up and blow away?
It has happened before you know. Seems like every one of the big four sports has held lockouts and strikes. Whom did it really hurt? Actually only those who make their living directly off the sport.
As a matter of fact, those sports struggled to get viewers back afterwards.
Maybe we need to look at our priorities. Are we truly living in a world that values professional athletes and pro sports more than we value our future or our communities' safety?
I'm not expecting any of this to change but wouldn't it be wonderful if it did?
God bless each and every teacher, police officer and firefighter out there.
Dennis Norwood is a reporter for The Catoosa County News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.