With this being an Olympic year, many really don’t know the full scope of what goes into being an Olympian. The physical and mental progression from one level to the next, as well as the financial expenses to complete the journey from a young hopeful through the ranks to being recognized as an elite athlete is a lifelong pursuit. For many, the journey ends too early. For others, the financial stress is too great to overcome. Then there are others whose physical attributes make it impossible to reach the pinnacle of sporting success.
For professional and elite athletes, reaching that level of excellence in their sport comes at a price. When we look at the price of a country for the cost of athletics today, we realize how much money is really involved. When we compare the costs involved to the cost of just 50 years ago, it’s just another indication of how our society has become so consumed with wealth. Just look at what the New York Yankees did by signing a baseball player to an unprecedented multi-million dollar contract last year. To top it off, if that athlete gets injured and can’t play, he’s still obligated to pay his full salary. This was unheard of 60 years ago.
We all need to remember that 60 years ago, many young people played minor league baseball and Pop Warner football. I myself can remember every Saturday playing baseball rain or shine. I had a four-fingered leather baseball glove that my father bought and I think that was the only expense we paid for me to play catch. When I entered high school, my parents did not have to pay additional fees for me to compete in interscholastic sports, whether it was cross country, swimming, or track. The school district covered our school uniforms, warm-ups, and transportation to and from away competitions. Just think that 60 years ago there were no real financial impediments preventing our parents from participating in interscholastic sports. Today, that is not the case. With school budget cuts at the forefront of debate in school districts across the country, so many sports programs have been cut or the fees to participate are staggering. When the costs to participate in interscholastic sports rise, many applicants are denied the opportunity to do so simply because many parents do not have the additional financial means for their children to participate in extracurricular activities.
Going back to my college years, how lucky I was to be able to participate in intercollegiate sports through a partial athletic scholarship that paid my expenses. We should remember that enrollment in state school universities was relatively low compared to today. In general, the cost of pursuing an athletic career was much less expensive than it is today. So much so, in fact, that today’s athletes spend more on high-tech gadgets to record and even improve their performance. I can fondly remember that all we had during cross country and track season were stopwatches.
When it comes to money today, there has been a gradual disintegration of behavior. It was during the course of my long athletic and professional career that I witnessed a decline in personal and professional behavior among many professional athletes. The professionalism and camaraderie of the 50s, 60s and early 70s have given way to an ideology of self-absorption, self-service, self-satisfaction and self-profit in which the individual is completely consumed by monetary compensation and disinterest without the slightest consideration. by his teammates. , competitors and fans. The sense of camaraderie that was once the primary motivation for being an athlete has been lost.
Which has replaced playing with the “Love of the Game” now where players of all professional sports and most college sports have also embraced the self serve philosophy. When and where they play because of the excessive amounts of money offered to them, the professionalism, respect for each player, the fans and the general public has diminished so much that players now expect the adoration, attention and publicity to be given to them. grant. This is not because of their skill, their respect for players, coaches, and fans alike, but because of the amount of money they are paid. Whether or not they actually produce the professionalism that needs to be displayed when people reach that level of athleticism is not displayed more often now.
I remember when I first competed in a sporting event. The excitement, joy and respect I had for myself, my coaches and the other competitors made me realize that just being able to compete was an incredible experience. Whether I won or came last was not the main focus. My coaches realized that winning wasn’t the most important thing, but what it’s about to compete is being able to push yourself to do your best. Sure, everyone likes to win, but even if you lost or came in second every time you tried, you made it, and that’s winning.
Today, a large number of high school and college athletes are drawn to the prospect of lucrative professional sports contracts. Many have succumbed to the temptation of forgoing a college degree or failing to graduate and opting for the professional contract only to realize that once their career ends or injury prevents them from competing, they are left with too few qualifications to start a career. career. outside of sports.
Most of these people are not mentally, emotionally, and educationally capable of understanding the scope of responsibilities that professional sports contracts entail. What has happened today in professional sports is that they have really encouraged a most unprofessional type of behavior on the part of the athletes themselves. I’m not saying that all professional sports athletes have indulged in this type of behavior, but the media has continually exploited some individuals to the point that the general public further encourages student and professional athletes to engage in unethical behavior. professional.
“For the love of the game or the sport! A time not so long ago. The days when players and athletes actually played and competed for the enjoyment of the sport itself and not the amount of money they are or will be paid Winning in the world of professional sports is the ultimate goal. The key here is to recruit the caliber of players who when they actually play or compete display a higher degree of excellence. Always doing their best will produce the winning effect. which is so important in today’s professional sports.
Today’s young aspiring athletes must be taught restraint and resist the urge to forego an education in pursuit of that lucrative contract that seems like a sure bet when in fact it is a short-sighted and misguided attempt to disrupt the life process of a individual. It is the students and student-athletes that really matter when they participate in their respective sports and are held accountable for their behavior on and off the field of play. They must display a level of personal esteem and show courtesy, respect and genuine camaraderie towards all.
Is it any wonder considering that so many schools continually fail to fund physical education and so many other rewarding cultural activities in the elementary and secondary school systems that today’s students and young aspiring athletes find it so difficult to have the same availability of programs that were considered an eternal part? from an educational experience just 60 years ago? Until schools across the country realize the importance of athletics and the arts in the educational experience and find ways to prevent families and individuals with disabilities from participating just because these programs are too cost prohibitive, many athletes, musicians or up-and-coming theater performers will be denied opportunities. to reach their full potential. The net result is one of the reasons our society has strayed from the moral values of a not-so-distant era. A very sad comment for today.