April 3, 2011
I always find it a bit troubling when Christians talk about certain people deserving a high salary. That goes for everybody, whether it's a CEO of a Fortune 500 company, a world-famous athlete who wins championships for his city, or whomever else you want to name. I think all too often we forget that we are steward of our gifts, including our talents. Part of our abilities are genetic, and part of our abilities come from luck: parents with the ability to pay for a good college, coaches and teachers that inspire us to develop our skills, etc. And yes, part of our abilities come from our efforts. But should we say that the baseball player's effort is worth more than the policeman or the math teacher? So perhaps it is right that Mr. Pujols gets a high salary, or not. But no, I don't think he "deserves" a higher salary than other people in other professions.
The issue is whether or not a player deserves a fair share of the pie he helped bake, so to speak. There is a ton of money in baseball and players in general, as the "product", ought to get a fair share of that, or else the owners become even more robber baron-like than they already are. If baseball didn't involve so much money, Pujols' demands would be ridiculous. But as one of the best, seeking out proportional income maybe isn't such a bad thing. Fans like to get in a lather about salaries, while with their other hand, they are purchasing tickets, jerseys, high end sports TV packages and other items that build the system that pays out the salaries they're upset about. The problem with huge salaries is that we have built the sports industry up to that level and get self-righteous about player salaries without a hint of irony. If the Cardinals are worth such-and-such amount of money within a League worth so much and Pujols is worth a proportional amount to them that equals $300 million, maybe it's not such a bad thing that he's seeking it. In any case, you could argue he's doing more to spread wealth around than the ownership.
I find it disturbing when Christians question another man's salary. The Lord give and takes away. Who are we to judge how God blesses another man?
I am not so certain that we are actually questioning his salary-rather the methodology which he employs to obtain that salary. As christians we must recognize that it is God who ultimately pays us. Our employers are simply the vessel that God uses for that payment. We must do what is right in furtherance of the gospel and not our own lives. It would be such a powerful statement if he put all the worth aside and accept what the employer may be offering because whatever it is God will provide the increase.
If more teams had ownership structures like the Green Bay Packersâ€”in which the team is owned by fans who buy shares that can never increase in value, with all team profits being invested in a charitable foundation rather than lining the pockets of another millionaireâ€”I'd allow for the possibility that sports players are systematically overpaid, as the impetus for reducing player salaries would be to make the game less expensive for the fans rather than to make someone who is already obscenely rich just a little more obscenely rich.But the NFL specifically outlaws any further ownership structures like the Packers', making it a club open only to the obscenely wealthy, and the NFL owners are refusing to open their books to the players in negotiations, instead choosing to hide just how much money they're stealing from the players' labor. As far as I know, no fan-owned relationship exists in any of the other three major sports either.So if the choice of who gets the millions and millions of dollars that flow into professional sports is between the playersâ€”the ones actually doing the work and providing the valueâ€”and the obscenely-rich owners, who don't really do anything but pony up capital for an asset that's virtually guaranteed to appreciate and reap ridiculous profits in return for their nonexistent "efforts," I'll go with the players ten times out of ten.
Still, God asks us to ask too, doesn't he? OK - so that is a bit out of context. But we don't know the finer details of what he does with his money. But we do know that two of the wealthiest people in the world give most if not all of their money away to people who are less fortunate. People who are wealthy HAVE to do this or they cease to be wealthy.So here, we have a Christian who is asking for more money - which he will HAVE to use to help the less fortunate in (hopefully) Christian investments or he will lose the money that he was given.
Great post, Kenman. I like how you tied in some basic economics with your line of reasoning.I am reminded of two verses: Luke 16:10 & Romans 14:4.While I do believe that most sports players don't deserve nearly as high a salary as they are deemed with, if Pujols sincerely gives away a huge portion of his salary, I say, "why not" to a higher salary. Your third paragraph led me to this.Should there be a level of scrutiny? Absolutely, as we are called to examine ourselves numerous times in the NT. Still, a good steward is often rewarded with more. Also, whether we disagree or agree with what happens to him, the reality is he will still end up making a lot of money (haha). Looks like it is up to God to judge, which I am perfectly content with, :)Thanks again for a great post, Kenman.
One problem with a player's huge salary is in the clubhouse: to acquire/keep the franchise player, the owner pays the huge salary, yet the teammates---who put in just as much time and effort, maybe even more, playing with just as much spirit and desire, maybe even more, than the star---play for a lot less money. Doesn't seem equitable.Another problem is outside many ballparks---in St. Louis, in Chicago (south side), in Cleveland---the list continues---the parks are surrounded by some of the poorest neighborhoods in the nation, whose residents can't afford to attend a game; little of the $millions that comes into the park makes its way into neighborhood businesses beyond the parking lots and sidewalk vendors. Doesn't seem equitable.I agree that to whom much is given, much is required, and I must judge myself by that standard as well. I know that there are "some" wealthy who find full-time work in giving it all away, and I hope Pujols and others will give back/pay forward in gratitude for their God-given gifts; but "some" are too few.
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