The State Of Professional Sports
By Christopher Buse, Staff Writer,

    Without sports, what is America really going to do? No more useless hours spent at a ballpark or a stadium. No more piles of dollars spent on "authentic" team gear that could have gone to something with more use. But more importantly, no more complaining about every single thing associated with the sport. That is where we are today.

    Sports has become everyone's confessional.

    It's the chance for the lower middle class factory worker to complain about the salaries of the people that he pays to go see play. It's the chance for the average baseball player to attempt to convince the mainstream masses that he's merely doing what's best for the "good of the game". It's the chance for the owner to attempt to convince the masses that in reality, atheletes are vastly overpaid, and they're the reason why you must pay five dollars for a damn plate of nachos, or six dollars for a luke warm beer. Confessional - and we, the average fan, are the priest. We get to hear every single side of the complaint, yet all it does to us is drive us away.

    Take for instance the stance that the Atlanta Braves took over starter Kevin Millwood. As opposed to the team taking blame for making what many consider the worst trade in baseball over the past five years, the Braves instead blamed the players, and their constant thirst for more money. Quite simply, the Braves traded a pitcher a year or so from his prime, because they couldn't afford him. Take into account the basic flaw with this plan.

    The Braves voluntarily paid him that salary.

    That's right, no one stuck a gun to the Braves forehead, they chose to pay Millwood the money that he recieved. Yet? What you heard was complaining that salaries were too high, that the players were being unreasonable, and he was traded for baseball "economics". How about the Baltimore Ravens? A mere six months removed from winning the Super Bowl, the World Championship, the entire enchilada, they completely imploded their team because in reality, they only overpaid for a title. It's the "Florida Marlins Disease". It's what's ruining professional sports. It's the desire of a team and of a player. To sacrifice his soul, every last fabric of his own morality, in order for the all acclaimed "ring"; a simple piece of jewlery that somehow defines a player's entire career. The Ravens cheated their fans, their host city, and every single sports nut that thought better of the game. And by doing so, they sent the clear message to everyone: the Marlins weren't wrong.

    Because in reality, it's a complete cycle. The fans complain about the state of the organization, ticket prices, and player salaries. So, in time, the owner decides to sell his soul. He or she overpays for every single player that's the "missing piece" of their championship puzzle, and suddenly the fans don't mind. Ticket prices are no longer absurd, because they're winning. Players salaries aren't that high, because by God, "we're winning". The cycle continues, a championship is won, or nearly won, then it finishes. They rip the team apart, and the fans come back out of the woodwork. It's what drives the constant rotation of players in professional sports. It's what drives the Arizona Cardinals to sign Emmitt Smith. It's what drives the San Francisco 49ers to let Joe Montana wear the red and white of Kansas City. It's what allows the New York Yankees to spend infinitely more then any other team in sports history...

    Because winning is the only thing that matters.

    Personally, I never much cared for John Stockton. He was the short white man that always annoyed the hell out of me. Yet in the end? What he did was go beyond the boundaries that we place on sports today. He didn't get his "ring". He was never the "final piece" of someone's championship puzzle. But what he was, was loyal; to his owner, to his teammates and to his fans. He never complained about money. He never demanded a trade, and in the end...he never won a championship.

    But I'd imagine John Stockton's content with that, because John Stockton personified how sports should be played, and he personified how athletes should react.

    He wasn't on posters. He didn't have a shoe contract, and no fan cared. The Jazz owner, Larry Miller, would have paid him any amount of money he asked for, but he never got the chance. Think of that this NBA off season. Think of that when the Miguel Tejada sweepstakes begins this year in the major leagues. Think of that as numerous veterans are cut after June 1st because they don't "fit"...due to economics. Want to know what's wrong with sports?

    Simply look in the mirror.

    Because it's us, the fans, that have ruined every single sport we once held in reverance. It's us, the fans, that cause players salaries to escalate. It's us, the fans, that cause teams to ping pong across this country. It's us, the fans, that allow players to be traded at will, and then complain about a player not having "loyality". If you ever cared about professional sports, then simply do me a favor.

    Watch...respect the accomplishments of the athletes...and just be quiet.

    State your opinion - it's the same principle that I'm capitalizing on now by writing this article - but take this into account. The next time you complain about players salaries? Your favorite player will be traded for a 18 year old pitcher that might not ever amount to anything. The next time you complain about ticket prices? A team will up and leave your city, and then you'll be left remembering the "old days". The next time you complain about your team stinking up the joint, they'll overpay for players that they won't keep, and you'll have one season in Utopia, only to be followed by years and years of heartache. Simply put, what's wrong with professional sports isn't those associated with the game...

    It's those that watch them, and how they react.

Copyright 2003  All Rights reserved.