I have become so disenfranchised with the state of professional sports. It has become uncomfortable for me to watch. Money has created this horror, and it is getting worse.
It is a twofold nightmare. It creates a terrible financial and competitive mismatch amongst teams and ruins college sports by taking players away too early.
Take, for instance, NCAA sports. Letting players go pro in basketball and baseball before they complete their eligibility is insane. Their potential is based on hype and nothing else. While a few exceptional players have gone on to make a definite mark on the game, the rule has seen so many lucky to be warming the pine.
The unlucky ones are left to scrounge around minor leagues or internationally, or with no career at all. It is sad that the majority of these players don't really care for an education and see colleges as their meal ticket to the Promised Land.
I really feel for those who rely too quickly on the word of some scrupulous scouts and agents only to go undrafted. At that point, they are ill-prepared for life, much less earning a living.
I pity colleges the most.
We will never again see dynasties such as UCLA basketball or Notre Dame football. It does my heart good to see schools such as Memphis in basketball and Texas in football able to recruit well enough to simply replenish what they lost. But not every school has that luxury.
Imagine college basketball if Eric Gordon, Greg Oden, Kevin Durant, and Derrick Rose were still in college...simply put, the competition level is not where it could be.
As a fan, I am expecting to see players hustle, work for what they earn, and relate to the common man who pays their contracts. Instead, I see whiners, laziness, incompetence, and self-anointed superstars who feel regular people are beneath them.
I am disgusted because few, if any, of the fans will ever see one million dollars in their whole lifetime of earning wages. It would be easier to understand if this only involved players, but making this worse is that owners of the teams seem to be setting the trend with their overspending.
You have unprepared, ill-advised benchwarmers riding the pine, earning at the very least a few hundred thousand dollars annually. Even worse is that some teams seem to relish taking this to an extreme, creating a horrible mismatch between the haves and have-nots.
George Steinbrenner and similar owners and CEOs, for shame...no longer is there any type of level playing field. CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett flouncing around with their overpaid contracts just is too ridiculous to accept while teams such as the Kansas City Royals and San Diego Padres dream of the day they can keep their stars from chasing the almighty dollar.
Your counterparts in the NBA and NFL are not much better, but they seem to have developed a way of keeping the division between haves and have-nots more respectable. Baseball just doesn't get it, as the richest payrolls almost triple those of the less lucrative teams.
If professional sports only adopt two changes, it will help make their product more palatable.
First and foremost, there needs to be a requirement that all college athletes complete their eligibility and get their degrees. If colleges focus on getting students who want to represent their schools while best preparing themselves for their futures, that will improve the professional talent level and eliminate so much "chaff."
Second, there should be penalties and higher taxation on teams who have the higher payrolls. As in the NBA, other sports should employ a luxury tax, especially MLB. There should be a maximum salary level as there is a minimum.
What are we left to believe? That you can earn no less than this much, but you can flip the bill to the owners for as much as you and your agent think you are worth?
I believe there is hope for professional sports, but until changes are made we shouldn't stand for this as fans. After all, these are really kids' sports, nothing more. Heck, players shouldn't even be paid for playing.
Go earn an actual living...there's nothing professional about being a player.