Friday, July 21, 2017

Way Too Much Pay For Play

My how salaries of American professional  football players have changed.

Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins recently turned down a long-term contract offer of $53 million. In 1924, the Green Bay Packers payroll for the entire team was $12,000. The 1924 team consisted of 18 players.

Ah, but inflation changes the picture. Yes, but the 1924 dollars are equivalent to only $171,530 in 2016 dollars. That would be about $9,530 per player, hardly a living wage. Of course, the 1924 salary money was not divided equally. Curly Lambeau was the Packers' player-coach that year, and he certainly got a bigger share than most, of not all, of the other players. Players in those days had to have other sources of income to survive.

We don't know the details of Cousins' $53 million contract offer, except that both he and the team have said the money was guaranteed, and not dependent upon performance or other factors.  We do know that top star quarterbacks in the National Football League are paid in the $10 million to $15 million per year range. Although Cousins has shown considerable potential, he is not yet an established top star. So let's assume his offer was for 5 years.

Is Cousins, or any athlete, worth $10.6 million per year?

Those who contend that professional football players are worth their huge compensation packages point out that careers can be cut short by injury at any time and the players cause teams to make the huge profits that enable them to pay top dollars to compete for talent.

Hogwash. Pay for professional football players has become ridiculous. Although some top surgeons in the U.S. can earn $1 million per year, average earnings for doctors in family practices, who strive to help rather than hurt others, are in the $200,000 per year area. The salary of the president of the United States is $400,000 per year.
Racing toward self-destruction?

A large share of the income of professional football teams is revenue from television contracts. Nevertheless, game ticket prices have soared to levels as exorbitant as player salaries and costs for food and drink in stadiums are likewise elevated.

There is mounting concern in this country about inequality in incomes between the rich and all others. A start at correcting the situation could be made in pro sports by winding down salaries of wealthy players and using the savings to reduce the costs for Joe Fan by lowering outrageous prices for tickets, hot dogs, and beer.

The current salary situation is well on the way to making me an ex-fan, and declining attendance figures for some teams indicate many already have become former supporters. Pro football is on a path of self-destruction if  drastic changes are not made soon .

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Hospital Hospitality

Hospitals are not known as fun places to be, yet they can have some pleasant aspects.

During a three-day stay at Borgess Medical Center in Kalamazoo several years ago. I found the staff to be friendly and ultra considerate as they pumped needed oxygen into my body. The food was so good, I tried to talk the head nurse into letting me stay one more day when discharge was contemplated.

Recently, blogging buddy Ronni Bennett, whose site "Time Goes By" has thousands of readers, provided us with detailed accounts of her encounter with hospital life as she recovered from a major operation. Ronni said a week in a hospital could be just the thing for overly-stressed executives. "They do absolutely everything for you, taking care of every personal and private need," she said.

I would add one thing to Ronni's tongue-in-cheek suggestion--demand that the hospital assign a room in the maternity ward for any executive rest and rehabilitation.

This spring, beautiful wife Sandy spent more than a hour having some of her internal plumbing rearranged by a surgeon at Borgess. A night's stay in the hospital was part of the recovery plan.

When son Lee and I learned the operation had been completed successfully, we got a surprise concerning the room arrangements. We were told the hospital was overcrowded and the only space available for Sandy was in the maternity ward. We wondered how that was going to work with a 70-something patient sharing space designed for new moms.

The attendant said we could visit the patient immediately. We arrived before Sandy and were ushered into the biggest private room I'd ever seen in a hospital. It obviously was intended to comfortably accommodate a fair number of family members who might want to welcome a newborn and hang around for a while. 

When a groggy Sandy was wheeled into the room, the nurse checked us out, grinned broadly,  and announced "It's a boy!" It seems Borgess has added dashes of humor to it's hospitality program.

Monday, July 03, 2017

Let's Just Celebrate the Fourth on the Fourth

The Fourth of July always has been a big deal wherever we lived, and well it should be as a celebration of the day a group of fearless colonists risked their lives to declare independence from Great Britain in 1776. Fireworks on the Fourth, especially as darkness falls, are a traditional part of the festivities that I enjoy.

Only in the last few years have explosions from firecrackers and rocket launches been heard nightly in our area starting June 29 or 30 and continuing throughout the week of the Fourth. Because darkness falls around 10 p.m. this time of year, early risers have trouble getting in a peaceful night's sleep with all the noise that often extends to midnight and beyond. This makes the level of irritation over this extension of what should be a one-day observance of an historic date far more vexing than the concerns many have about starting the Christmas holiday season before Thanksgiving.

What's next--starting early and celebrating New Years until January Fourth or Fifth  because getting thoroughly inebriated one eve a year is so much fun the experience ought to be extended?

Have a Happy Fourth! And may all your other days this summer be pleasant and peaceful without interruptions from unwanted big bangs.