YES

by Eric Uribe

Athletes embody all-American values of hard work and dedication. Floyd Mayweather has two sets of nearly identical ultra luxury cars color-coded by mansion — white in Las Vegas, black in Miami. The 37-year-old wears boxer briefs once before throwing them out. Mayweather regularly tweets pictures of six-figure sports bets to his five-million plus followers.

To some, “Money” Mayweather — as the undefeated boxer fancies himself — embodies everything that is wrong with professional athletes. Cocky. Materialistic. Overpaid. But allow me to counter with a quintessential Mayweather quote. “I am Mr. Boxing. Mr. My Life Is The Shit. Mr. Money May. Mr. I’m Getting It. The best of the best. The creme de la creme. The motherfucker that’s at the pinnacle.” Those words were uttered in the days leading up to his fight with Marcos Maidana, which Mayweather handedly won. In the 36 minutes he fought Maidana, Mayweather racked up a minimum of $32 million dollars — a figure that will trek north after he gets a share of the pay-per-view buy rates.

I know, that’s godly amounts of Ben Franklin’s, but here’s more perspective: Mayweather netted at least $888,889 per minute during the match. His 18-year career has now earned him more than $400 million dollars. Make no mistake about it, Mayweather deserves every penny — as do other professional athletes. Sports (particularly football, basketball, and baseball) aren’t just a game, it’s a billion-dollar global phenomenon. And to the common fan, they’re focusing on the wrong numbers. Instead of scoffing at players’ salaries, take into consideration the money these players are pumping into their sport. The National Football League reported revenues of over $9 billion in 2013, while the National Basketball Association posted $4.6 billion, according to Forbes.

Now, take LeBron James, the best player in the NBA and an internationally-recognized superstar, for example. James’ salary last season for the Heat was $19 million — which is a paltry .41 percent of the NBA’s entire revenue. Jaw-dropping. If anything, James was grossly underpaid last season. Before James took his talents to Miami, the Heat were a middle-of-the-road team. Four years later, James built Miami into an empire before leaving to his hometown Cavaliers again this summer. And I’m just talking money right now, not championships. Everywhere James and the Heat went, sold-out arenas (most of which seat nearly 20,000 people) welcomed them. Piles of James jerseys, memorabilia and other merchandise sold in droves. The cost to sponsor the Heat nearly doubled since his arrival. Advertisers paid top dollar for spots in televised games featuring James. All in all, James netted the NBA far more money than the $19 million he collected. For critics of players’ wages, are you telling me James and other players don’t deserve a big piece of the $4.6 billion pie that is the NBA? Be real.

Like my girl Iggy Azalea said, “If you ain’t talking money, what you saying to me?” and these athletes are fluent in making green for themselves and their league. Furthermore, athletes are rare breeds. Sure, you can argue college professors, firefighters and police officers serve a bigger role in society — and I’m not denying that. But they are dime a dozen. An estimated 800,000 police officers, 300,000 firefighters and upwards of a million professors are employed in the United States alone. Do you know how many NBA players are signed by a team? 450. What about NFL players? 2,016. Making it to the league and staying there, little less excelling at it, is a rare feat. In the world we live in, if you have talents that few others have — which athletes do — you deserve top dollar for it. Unlike college professors whose influence is confined to their university, athletes’ pull extends across all shores of the world.

James is entertaining millions around the globe. Meanwhile, college professors are impacting a few hundred in their classrooms. Any question on who has more pressure? Let me drive the point home with one more quote from the cash cow himself Mayweather. “A lot of times, you hear people say, ‘Floyd Mayweather is always flashing his money. He’s always flashing his cars. He’s always flashing his jewelry.’ I didn’t rob anyone for it. All I did was go out there like an American citizen and dedicate myself to the sport of boxing.” Isn’t that what the American dream is all about? Working hard and dedicating yourself to your craft to ensure a better future for yourself and family? Athletes embody these all-American values and they deserve to reap the benefits.

Eric Uribe can be reached euribe@sagebrush.unr.edu

NO

by Jordan Russell

We should admire those who actively improve society.

Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson and many others have rightly caused harsh backlash from people around the nation. As the information continues to unfold, it becomes clear that “the bigger they are, the harder they fall.” But why are these players occupying such an elevated status in society to begin with? Sure, they have reached the top tier of their field through lots of hard work and dedication.

Does that mean that they deserve the respect of millions of people along with checks for millions of dollars? Certainly not. Athletes play games for a living. Granted, the games they choose to play require a vast amount of physical training, and are far more difficult to play and master than even the most intense round of Monopoly. But what do sports like football and basketball have in common with games like Monopoly? 1. Both groups primarily serve to entertain us, and 2. Being really good at playing them shouldn’t earn you a salary higher than the president’s.

Many claim that athletes are society’s elite and therefore deserve our utmost praise and respect. But others have worked just as hard to become elite in their own fields, and they are not afforded the same status as athletes. Concert pianists train rigorously for years to share some of history’s most astoundingly beautiful compositions, yet often struggle to find steady work; social activists work tirelessly to bring equality and justice to the world, and are marginalized as “idealists” and “radicals”; teachers and college professors are responsible for making our world a more educated place, and their jobs are always at the mercy of budget cuts. So who deserves more respect: someone who generates obscene amounts of money for their league and themselves, or someone who trains subsequent generations of academic innovators?

As college students, we should realize that the latter is obviously the correct choice. You can admire pro athletes all you want, but let’s face it: Derek Jeter doesn’t have a say in whether you pass your core humanities class, and Tom Brady isn’t going to write you a letter of recommendation for grad school. Any professional should be compensated in proportion to the amount of work they do and the amount of skill required to do it. Every profession seems to more or less follow that guideline – every profession, that is, except professional athletics.

According to Forbes, Ray Rice was set to earn $4 million this year, after earning a combined $25 million in 2012 and 2013. Forbes also stated that the fine imposed on him – $58,823 – equaled about what he would earn playing one quarter of one game. Meanwhile, the Chronicle of Higher Education reports that the highest paid tenure and tenure-track college professors earn an average annual salary of $112,088. To put that into perspective: A person who dedicates their time to educating the next generation of lawyers, engineers and entrepreneurs works for half a year in order to earn less than half of what a single football player earned for approximately 20 minutes of work. If that isn’t an illustration of sorely misplaced priorities, what is? Even within the confines of our own campus, we can see the effects of this backward reasoning. Researchers, including students, are working every day to explore avenues of alternative energy sources, discover new facts about Nevada’s ancient populations and even change the way we diagnose and treat diseases.

This is the work that makes us as students able to say that we attend a Tier One University, yet it gets less mainstream attention than Brock Hekking’s mullet. A team’s win or loss can undoubtedly elicit a meaningful response from its fans; people become invested in a particular group or player, and they look forward to the emotional roller coaster each season brings. Everyone needs something to look forward to – something to hope for – and an athletic team does just that. Sports are not valueless, but their worth lies in the enjoyment that people get from watching them. When we begin to assign intrinsic worth to sporting events and, as a byproduct, the athletes themselves, we lose sight of the things that are really important – education, artistic expression and humanitarian efforts, to name a few. These are the things that bring real, meaningful change to society, and we must stop forcing them to rest in the shadows of unjustly praised athletes

Jordan Russell can be reached at jrussell@sagebrush.unr.edu.