What’s With The Ball?

I have delayed my planned Christmas posting by a few days, as an ongoing matter I’ve long found disturbing really caught my attention last weekend. It deals with The Ball. No, not the Times Square Ball, which descends in New York City every New Year’s Eve to mark the start of the new year. I’m referring to none other than the ubiquitous sports ball, be it a golf ball, basketball, tennis ball, football, soccer ball, volleyball, or baseball, to list some of the more popular spectator sports. Less commonly, a bowling ball, ping pong ball, or even variations such as a puck or a shuttlecock; and also a rugby ball or cricket ball if outside the United States. There are numerous other ball games. But here’s the rub.

The December 9, 2023 headline from CBS Sports: Shohei Ohtani becomes world’s highest-paid athlete after signing lucrative contract with Dodgers. That contract is worth $700 million over 10 years (actually 20 years when counting “luxury tax” deferrals).

Now, reliable sources date the advent of homo sapiens back to around 200,000 years ago. Evidence of sports events date from around 15,000 BC to 10,000 BC. So, competitive sports are a longstanding part of human activity.

In terms of The Ball, a person acquires a knack to throw it, catch it, toss it into a hoop, kick it between goalposts, putt it into a hole, or bat it out of a ballpark. There have been superstar players in each sport, and there will be such players in the future who excel in a given sport. But somewhere along the line, these skillful players became grossly overpaid to the point of obscenity.

No, I’m not going off on an anti-Capitalism rant. But I am in complete agreement with one article from the Intelligencer that called this contract “insane.” Paying anyone $700 million, let alone $100 million or $______ [fill in your tipping-point figure] to hit a moving ball reflects what we value as a society. And, of course, money is #1. And unquestionably, the more the better.

The top five highest paid athletes of all time are listed below (source: The Bleacher Report, which I’ve adapted):
-Shohei Ohtani, Baseball: 10 years (actually 20 years including deferrals), $700 million
-Lionel Messi, Soccer: 4 years, $674 million
-Patrick Mahomes, Football: 10 years, $450 million
-Mike Trout, Baseball: 12 years, $426.5 million
-Karim Benzema, Soccer: 2 years, $426 million

Now, I’m not trashing these players. I’ll simply contrast their exorbitant salaries with three photographs below, which show some children whose families do not possess quite as much money as these athletes and who may not exactly be laughing their way to the bank each day. And certainly, I don’t anticipate any such children playing professional sports with The Ball anytime soon.

Photo credits from left to right:

  1. opens in a new windowEopens IMAGE file opens in a new windowxtreme Poverty and Hungeropens IMAGE file by Sophiabasa, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons. / Retouched from original.
  2. opens in a new windowChildren by billycm, licensed for free usage, via opens in a new window Pixabay.
  3. opens in a new windowGirl Affected by Famineopens IMAGE file (from 1921 – used as an example) by Fridtjof Nansen, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons. / Cropped and retouched from original.

4 thoughts on “What’s With The Ball?”

  1. “Liberty is not built on the doctrine that a few nobles or rich commons have a right to inherit the Earth. No! No! It stands on this principle: That the meanest and lowest of the people are, by the unalterable, indefeasible laws of God and nature, as well entitled to the benefit of the air to breathe, light to see, food to eat and clothes to wear as the nobles or the king. That is liberty…and liberty will reign in America!”

    —John Adams

    • Thank you, Jack, for your spot-on comment from President John Adams, who would no doubt be rolling over in his grave were he to read the amounts of these sports-figures’ ridiculously obscene contracts, especially when contrasted with the poorest of the poor.

      Just out of curiosity, I added up the combined value of the top 100 highest-paid athletes worldwide, according to Wikipedia. That figure came in at an astronomical $24.3 billion, which I guess is a relative drop in the bucket compared to the combined value of the top 10 richest people in the world, which is a staggering $1.43 trillion, per Forbes. If these 10 individuals (the usual suspects) were grouped as a single nation, they would rank #13 on the “richest countries of the world” list. Simply mind-numbing. – John Roger Barrie

      • Keep up the good work John! It’s a sad commentary to see where people’s priorities are. Such divisions of wealth didn’t exist when I was young. There were a few millionaires, but they were few and far between. I’m old enough to remember when people with ordinary jobs could live quite well, own a home in California, and support a family on a single income. Sadly, that is no longer the case.


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