Retirement Circuses Demonstrate What’s Rotten in Pro Sports

Time was, a great professional athlete would figure out that it was time to hang them up and go on to other things. This might have happened because they were tired of the grind, because they had other things they really wanted to do, or because the years of competition had taken their toll, and they finally realized that their bodies could take the pounding no more. After the season, they’d announce that was it, that they would not be back, and go quietly off to new endeavors. But, that is no more. Now, star athletes who have made hundreds of millions of dollars or more, directly causing several-hundred dollar ticket prices and team and cable joint venture networks that deny television access to millions of local fans, think the public owes them even more. And thus, we have the likes of Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter and others going from city to city, being showered with fake adulation from rival fans, accepting one valuable gift after another, items they could pay for themselves and never blink an eye. The retirement circus shows just what stinks in professional sports, and the public just eats it up, never connecting the dots.

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It used to be that even the best of athletes making the highest salaries in their respective sports needed off-season jobs to pay the bills. Then, promotion and television contracts and salaries exploded, creating a new class of citizen, the "super-athlete", "super" meaning super rich. And their greed exploded exponentially. It wasn't enough
that they had to extort every possible cent in salary that a team could pay them, often meaning that the team could not afford to pay other needed players in order to put together a fully competitive roster and maybe win a title, but athletes began choosing teams in part due to the advertising contracts they could find in any given market. And, lo and behold, when it was time to retire, there was that final tour, to stock that back room of the mansion with a tenth jet ski and to put a fifth Porsche in the garage.

Hey, I’ve got an idea! To the next Derek Jeter Retirement Circus Tour Player – When the Detroit Tigers hand you that gift certificate for a ten-day vacation to Atlantis, or when the Brooklyn Nets give you a Dodge Ram Pickup, why don’t you arrange for a drawing, right then, right there, and give that gift to a fan? Ever think of doing that? That gun in the right field bleachers who takes three buses to work each morning and who is at his one and only game of the season could use it a lot more than you can.

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