Recently the Washington Wizards offered point guard Gilbert Arenas a new contract for over $125 million. He is expected to sign it next week. Many basketball fans are disturbed about the size of the offer. They reason that Arenas is not an "elite player" and this contract bodes badly for the future of the game. They worry about the amount that other players like Cleveland's LeBron James will have to be paid when they renew their contracts. They worry about labor strikes, work stoppages and lock-outs. They don't need to worry. Thanks to advertisers and corporate sponsors, NBA owners have lots and lots of money.
In 2007, Tiger Woods made $127 million ($22 million in winnings and $105 million in endorsements). That's in just one year! Is that offensive to you?
Just imagine for a moment what the sponsors must be making just to offer that amount of purse money and endorsement money to Woods.
His $22 milllion in salary alone would have put him in company with basketball's elite players such as Kevin Garnett, Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant. Only Michael Jordan made more, he was paid over $30 million in the last year of his contract with the Bulls.
For us average Americans, the problem is putting numbers like these into perspective. We have to remember these are marketing and business decisions being made by multi-billion dollar companies and multimillionaire owners.
In this particular case, we shouldn't forget that before the Wizard's made their offer Arenas had already received another offer from an opposing team for $100 million. Those are the market forces of capitalism at work.
The owners of basketball teams look at these players as money making corporate assets, not just as individuals. So, let's let "Gilbert Arenas, Inc." make its money. That's how our capitalist society, our democracy, is designed.
The main reason American style-democracy is flourishing all over the world today is not freedom of speech, or freedom of religion, but rather, the freedom to make big money fast and keep it. The freedom to sell your talents to the highest bidder or start a money making venture that changes your life forever.
Change the rules of the game and America will become another "former USSR."