In the grand scheme of things, professional sports do not matter all that much, except for those who derive their income from their participation.
If you are a successful professional athlete, you have the freedom, income, and adulation that 99% of Americans can only dream of. Relating to the three chief sports of football (NFL), basketball (NBA) and baseball (MLB), fans of the sport enjoy watching the game or games for lots of reasons.
I became a St. Louis Cardinal baseball fan watching them on our little black and white TV set in the early 1960s. The announcer was Dizzy Dean and he was a show unto himself, but watching the Cardinals even now gives a bit of the feeling of being home on the floor of our linoleum living room watching a game between men I did not know from a town I had never been to. It was -- and is -- a good feeling.
When the NFL and the NBA decided they had to become social warriors and use their fame and exposure to get ordinary Americans to espouse political views they did not want, a long period of financial growth for the leagues took a nose dive. Turns out, quite a few people who did not want to be preached to, decided to tune out and look for other venues or entertainment. Billions of dollars were lost when sports leagues decided to become political ones.
Recently, a very solid majority of the citizens of Georgia decided to do something about the train wreck that was the 2020 election. Well more than 80% of the electorate supported the Voting ID Bill that requires voters to prove who they are. More than 60% of minority voters supported the bill which simply tries to make the votes honest that are cast.
Enter Major League Baseball. The execs at the top of MLB decided to punish Georgia for passing a law they didn't like. The MLB All-Star game was set for Atlanta this summer, but not anymore. If only the good people of Georgia could quickly pass another law erasing the one just enacted, then maybe, just maybe, the MLB might let them have the All-Star Game -- which few people watch.
Why professional sport CEOs and athletes think they can tell states or citizens how they may think or act is beyond comprehension. What will happen is another round of citizen groups starting boycotts or similar action against pro baseball in general.
I had hoped to go back to St. Louis with my son this summer to attend a Cards game, but now I am not so sure. If the MLB is going to use its sports platform to push political views, count me out of anything associated with it.
Speaking of sports and politics
I have been getting several Facebook posts from some of my left leaning friends who are outraged about the salary structures of men who play in the NBA and women who play in the WNBA.
Women make far far less than their male counterparts, income wise. Million dollar contracts are common in the NBA but the women make about 10% of that in the WNBA. There are cries about class action lawsuits, injunctions, marches and so forth.
Why are the salaries so disparate? The NBA made close to $9 billion (9,000,000,000) last year, and the WNBA made $60 million (60,000,000). However, the WNBA spent $70 million last year and usually runs a $10 million deficit every year. How do the balance the books? The NBA gifts the WNBA $10 million or so every year.
The NBA is selling a product that is in high demand and has a lot of customers. The WNBA doesn't have a product in high demand and consequently makes much less money.
I have heard some folks remark that teachers make so much less than pro athletes, that it is scandalous and wrong. However, teachers are paid with tax dollars which are taken from tax payers. Pro players get paid with money voluntarily spent by people who are fans and supporters. This is how free societies work.
Arkansas Activities Association site crashes
I have been mightily trying to get onto the Arkansas Activities Association website to download the 2021 Arkansas 4A High School Track and Field State Meet qualifying times. I am sure we have already qualified in several events but I have not seen the charts to know for sure.
I have seen a warning lately on their site that they had been hacked. I guess they have been.
The past year has been the toughest one I can remember for getting access to sports stats and information.
As soon as the site is back up, I will be reporting on the status of the various track and field athletes striving for sports in the state meet next month.
Feel the need for speed?
Come out to Blackhawk
One of the most popular events in track and field for most people is the 100-meter dash. It is the most watched Olympic event with the winner earning the title of the world's fastest human.
In both the boys' and girls' 100-meter events Thursday, you will see perhaps the best in the state in both divisions. Senior Blakelee Winn is a defending 100 champion and leads the state among 4A athletes (12.5). Junior Patrick Elliott has a smoking 10.9 clocking, just nine-hundredths of second behind Ladainian Hendrix from Nashville for the 4A state lead.
Both the Blackhawk boys and the girls are heavy favorites to win the championship Thursday. Teams slated to be in the meet include Decatur, Elkins, Farmington, Gravette, Prairie Grove, Shiloh, West Fork and the host Blackhawks.
Pea Ridge will be running a Team Red and a Team White to get more athletes into the competition.
Editor's note: John McGee, an award-winning columnist, sports writer and art teacher at Pea Ridge elementary schools, writes a regular sports column for The Times. The opinions expressed are those of the writer. He can be contacted through The Times at [email protected]