Sports contracts - and baseball contracts in particular it seems - have gotten way out of hand. Consider three of the larger contracts that were given out in baseball last summer. There was Yu Darvish, a pitcher from Japan, who signed a six-year deal with the Texas Rangers for $60 million. However, just to be able to negotiate with Darvish, Texas had to post a fee of $51.7 million, bringing the total value of the contract to $111.7 million. There was Albert Pujols - then the slugger for the St. Louis Cardinals - who signed a $240 million contract with the Anaheim Angels which included a number of perks. Among them were four season tickets for the life of the 10-year deal, a hotel suite on road trips, a luxury suite at the ballpark for his charitable group, the Pujols Foundation, for 10 home games a year and the right to buy a luxury suite between first and third base for all home games. Then there was Prince Fielder who signed a nine-year, $214 million contract with the Detroit Tigers last year. Among the provisions in the contract was a stipulation that if he made the All-Star team as a bench player he would receive an additional $50,000. If he made the All-Star team as a starter, he would receive an additional $100,000. In his first year with Detroit he was a starter on the All-Star team - which means for making the team and a few innings of work he made more than the average person makes in over two years. Fielder also would receive an additional $200,000 if he finished second through fifth in season MVP voting - $500,000 if he finished first.
The worst part is that Pujols' and Fielder's contracts are not the largest in the history of the sport. Alex Rodriguez first set the record when he signed a 10-year, $252 million contract with the Texas Rangers in 2000. However, he eclipsed that mark in 2007 when he opted out of his contract with the New York Yankees and signed another 10-year deal for $275 million.
While it is true that athletes have a much shorter window to make money in their profession, nobody is worth the kind of money that the aforementioned players - and some others as well - are paid. There are several other professions in the world that are far more important - the compensation for which is significantly lower. Among those that come to mind are doctors and teachers. Both of those professions are far more difficult than the training professional athletes go through. Additionally, both jobs are far more meaningful to society than that of the professional athlete.
Although I do believe sports and professional athletes have their place in society as they provide a number of people with entertainment and an escape from their daily lives, I simply don't believe that they should be paid millions - or hundreds of millions - to do what they do. While I realize that some of them start foundations for worthy causes and help people with their money and fame, it still does not justify the large contracts they receive. In my opinion, more money should be going to the more important professions within our society. The people who help educate today's youth, save lives and heal the sick - among a host of others - should be earning more than they are. Instead, people like those mentioned above are part of the growing problem in this country - they are part of a small percentage of the population that has a vast majority of the nation's wealth. The way things have been going, one has to wonder when that trend will begin to be reversed.
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