"You Gotta Be Kidding!"
by Mickey Charles CEO, sportsnetwork.com
Huntingdon Valley, Pa (Sports Network) -
So you really think that is ridiculous? What about a mailroom clerk and cash for one washroom attendant? Would you be interested in three future draft choices from two Ivy League schools for your number-one sales person? Actually, the fact of the matter is that is the American way. It is the plan of one major corporate group, for a Microsoft, Kodak, General Motors, Sun Microsystems, ABC, NBC, CBS, Turner, Fox, Disney, Universal and hundreds, if not thousands, of others to rise to the top based upon the talent pool they put together and the dollars they are committed to expend in achieving top-dog status.
We used to call it the competitive flair that beats within all of us. It was a drive stimulated by the actions of others. They forced us to be better. They took us, they take us, to the next level. They drive us. They set the pace and force us to be better, to be more creative, to reach for energy and diversity that we were not sure existed before the game began. They send us out there to find the best support group we can, the people that will surround us and make us as good as we can be.
Why is that philosophy limited to business and what makes sports so exceptional and restricted that players are treated with less freedom than business people, than cattle or sheep, until free agency wraps its loving arms around them. They are told what to say and when to say it; they can be traded and uprooted in a New York second. Their lives are directed by the whims and vagaries of owners who see themselves as lords of the manor with the rights that we thought were gone with the Middle Ages.
If Barry Sanders does not want to play in Detroit, more power to him.
Why should there be some false direction for balance in sports? The objective is, and always has been, to be the best you can be personally and in business, at any cost that is legal. If you can pay for talent, bring it in. If you can bluff the competition and still deliver to your new clients, go for it. If you can legally raid the other guy for the best he has and fold them into your enclave, good for you. Pay them more and they beat a path to your door. This is, after all, America and for as long as I can remember we are taught to be the best we can be. To grow. To excel. To move forward in life towards the stars and pick up as many gems as we are able to along the way.
If the Yankees, Lakers, Islanders, Jets can offer the most for the best, why not? Do you sincerely believe that curtailment of that has really helped sports? Sure, the athletes are earning mega-dollars no matter where they are and, for the most part, they may not care. But when all is said and done, the investments have been made, cars purchased, homes built, families secure forever and endorsements in place for a lifetime-- what matters is whether or not there is a championship ring adorning their hand. That is when the game is played for honor and prestige, for the ability to raise that digit finger with meaning. No man or woman should be a materialistic piece of goods, luggage, a widget, a product that is no different than appliances on the shelf at Home Depot.
Free agency was treated like Roe vs. Wade. And, looking back, that was justified. But it never should have been necessary. Every player today owes his multi-millions to one Curt Flood. Each one of them should have a small statue of him on the fireplace mantel at home. It never should have come to that. Yes, to your next question, contracts are made to be honored. Ahem, tell that to the players who renegotiate when their batting or scoring average goes up three points or they?re voted onto an All-Star team. Having said that, when the contract period is over isn?t it time for the highest bidders to enter the room?
Flood lost his 1972 Supreme Court case.
Salary cap? Why should any sport have the right to tell the owner of a team what he or she is allowed to spend to improve the product? The objective is to give the fans, the potatoes with clickers glued to their hands, the best performance(s) they can. We?ve earned it. If our guy has the big bucks and he can put an aggregation together to challenge the Yankees, take on the Lakers or ?Blazers, send the Rams back to the farm or create a dynasty in the NHL, why not?
All it means is that everyone else will try harder, go after the best players they can find and the cream will rise to the top. It beats the hell out of parity that is now defined as mediocrity at its pitiful best. You see, not everyone wants to go to New York to compete, feels satisfied among Hollywood?s finest or wants to play for that winning coach whose own blood pressure level might force theirs up to the same level.
The players are not meat on the hoof. There is no pre-ordained right to buy and sell them by the pound. If Barry Sanders does not want to play in Detroit, more power to him. If he wants to give the Lions back a bunch of money, that sounds like a fair deal to me. Yet the front office of a team that has no designs on the Super Bowl is keeping one of the greatest runners the NFL has ever seen on the sidelines because they are petty, vindictive, myopic and vengeful. This employee does not like the job, is fed up with management and needs a change of residence where he just might get the ring that has eluded him and the likes of the Dan Marinos of the sport.
To paraphrase Moses, "Let those players go!" and let the chips fall where they may. It will really make things interesting. Sports has no right to be different than any other business and, make no mistake about it, sports is a business, a multi-billion dollar one. The talent within each sport is not the private property of the team for longer than the contract to which each is committed and anything to the contrary is downright un-American. It goes against the basic principles of capitalism, freedom of choice and opportunity.
Did Lincoln really free the slaves? You gotta be kidding!