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September 13, 2010

The Depression Calculator

If you've ever thought about jumping in front of a diesel, licking a power socket, watching the complete series of Gilmore Girls without interruption, or any other form of suicide, I advise you to read no further. Fiddling with the Salary Crunch is not for the faint of heart (or the faint of wallet). If you do end up harming yourself as a result of what comes next, all I ask is you don't blame me - blame ESPN. They're the ones who came up with the Salary Crunch (aka, the depression calculator).

What the Salary Crunch provides is a look at how long it takes a professional athlete to earn your yearly salary. You select an athlete, type in your annual earnings, hit the submit button, and learn that by the time LeBron James scores five points in his first game, he's earned what you make in a full year. Here's the link- give it a try. I did, and I found out that it takes NBA player Joe Johnson 5.09 minutes of one game to earn my entire years worth of paychecks. Conversely, I would need to work 566 years to earn what he makes in one season.

 Want to hate your job even more? Try ESPN's Salary Cruncher today!

Now unless you are Joe Johnson himself (or a robot), this should be upsetting to you. You work hard. Fourty hours or more every week. And you do it with lame co-workers and poor benefits. Shouldn't you be the one getting the monster paydays? After all, most of these millionaire players left college early, never worked a real job, and have no marketable skills outside of their sporting talents. Why should they be making millions when all their doing is playing a game?

Well, as bizarre as it may sound, I actually think athletes do deserve what they make. Here's my reasoning:

Reason 1 - Athletes put their bodies on the line

Sounds too dramatic, I know, but players in the four major sports risk their lives in every game. NFL players are the most vulnerable, being subject to collisions of up to 10 G's on any given play. Additionaly, concussion research shows that NFL players are more at risk for brain damage than ever before. Athletes in the NBA run until their knees blow out and their ankles are made of screws. Baseball seems safe enough until you consider the countless arm injuries pitchers have to endure, not to mention the occasional line drive to the unsuspecting skull. Put it this way: if your job might leave you in a wheelchair or a mental institution, you deserve apt compensation (you'd think military types would've figured this out long ago).

Reason 2 - Athletes perform under immense pressure

What's the biggest crowd you've ever performed in front of? 400 people? 2,000 people? Imagine what it's like to do your job with 106 million people watching! That's how many viewers tuned in to the Super Bowl last year. Ever wonder what it would be like to botch a field goal or miss a free throw in front of a crowd like that? Consider that your screw up will be published in papers, on the internet, on TV, watched over and over on YouTube, discussed on radio stations ...  that's pressure that few other professions face. The richest movie stars (who make considerably more than the richest sports stars, by the way) get to re-shoot their scenes if they mess up. An athlete's reputation and performance are being tested live every time they go to work.

Reason 3 - The greatest athletes are irreplaceable

What's the biggest difference between me and LeBron James? I'm expendable - LeBron isn't. If I died today another hairy accountant could fill in and do any of my jobs. If LeBron died the world would be robbed of one of the greatest human specimens of all-time. There simply isn't another LeBron-type player who could step in and take his place. How many 260 pound people exist that can jump forty inches, dribble like a point guard, nail outside jumpers like a shooting guard, and finish like a power forward? Maybe two or three in the whole world. How many golfers like Tiger have come along? One, maybe two. But balding accountants? School teachers? Engineers? We can be found anywhere, anytime. Normal humans can be replaced. Superstar athletes - not so much.


There are other reasons I think athletes deserve their millions (they spend half their season traveling, have no private life, are forced to shower with naked men every day), but time runs short. Maybe you agree with my feelings. Maybe you're depressed. Or maybe you've never even heard of Joe Johnson and the fact that you'd have to work 400 years to earn what he makes after playing 82 basketball games leaves you wanting to scalp a kitten. If that's the case you can keep the knife but I request that you hand over the kitten. Because if you're looking to kill something out of rage, it might as well be me you eliminate.

After all, I'm easily replaced.

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