What value would you attach to talent? What price would you be willing to pay someone for their dedication? How about for their intensity and even plain old ability? Seriously … take a moment and think about this. If you had spent all or most of your childhood, adolescence and young adulthood training and preparing to do what you love to do (on a professional level) what things would you want someone to consider when they negotiate your salary? Think like a professional athlete for a moment. I think my perspective would have to be explained by showing you what these men and women hear on a pretty regular basis from:
“Remember now, if you get hurt on the job, there is no workman’s compensation. You are expected to, within reason, get up, shake it off, and keep it moving. Maybe you didn’t sleep well the night before. Who cares? GO TO WORK! Even if a close family member or friend dies, if you are scheduled to work, you will go to work.”
It isn’t just your boss who expects this – he or she is mostly concerned about the thousands of screaming fans in attendance, and possibly millions more watching at home or from various sports bars and other venues. Your team’s owner knows who is going to watch you, critique your performance, take pictures of you at your very worst moment, and plaster these images all over the internet, television and newspapers. He also knows how this will affect the franchise…the brand. You are, after all, a PRODUCT.
“You see, we depend upon you. We are able to make OUR living because of what YOU do. Our clients turn to you for entertainment. We plan major events around what you are doing. We need to sell hot dogs and beer…you can’t let us down now! What will happen to us?”
“Listen…I need to sell my (insert anything and everything you can possibly think of) and if I put your face on the (insert packaging description), I am sure that my profits will increase! Yes, I will give you a very small percentage of my earnings, but I will complain about it, because you are already making all that money for, I mean … that team is already paying you a hefty salary. I do not care how many expenses you have, I just want to get paid!”
“GET YOUR HEAD IN THE GAME! I can’t believe you dropped that ball! We’re not going to make it to the playoffs this year because of YOU. No home field advantage? What the… What do you mean you have a torn rotator cuff? Suck it UP! All my life I dreamed of playing professional sports…now that I can live through you (since it didn’t work out for me) PLAY THE GAME THE WAY I WOULD HAVE PLAYED IT! What kind of role model ARE you? I want my kids to be able to look up to you! I can’t be a good example as a parent, so I’ve chosen YOU, sports figure, to put on a pedestal and if you do ANYTHING wrong, I will make sure you never play in this league again!”
Granted, if things are going very well for you and your sport, this makes everyone happy and your salary is justified. (Umm…how often does THAT happen?)
Still think professional athletes are overpaid? Tell me what you REALLY think. I’m just sayin…
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