To some, the pay’s the thing
Have mercy — we have pint-sized mercenaries in our midst.
There’s nothing wrong with a desire to acquire money via legal means. Seeing as how a certain amount of it is necessary to ensure one’s overall well-being, earning dollars makes perfect sense.
Who among us works solely because we can’t find anything more pleasurable in which to engage ourselves?
But on occasion that pursuit of pay seems inappropriate. Expecting to be financially compensated for serving meals at a soup kitchen, for example, would be tacky. So, too, is seeking cash when helping out with seniors or children’s groups.
Suddenly, though, there is a movement afoot to change that feeling about the latter. Interestingly, it’s not referring to the persons currently donating their time, but those benefiting from it.
August is Little League World Series time. It’s been that way for decades, but in today’s immediate-access-to-everything climate, the event gets marketed to a greater degree than ever before.
And let’s not fool ourselves — it’s a moneymaker. If it weren’t, TV networks would have no interest in broadcasting it.
But they do. ESPN, in fact, reportedly paid $4 million for the rights to televise 32 of this year’s games.
That ain’t kid stuff, but in the opinion of sports columnist Dan Wetzel, at least a fraction of it should be. In a recent piece that ran on Yahoo!Sports, Wetzel proposed that players whose teams are featured on TV receive some sort of stipend for their appearance.
He suggested packaging it as scholarship money for college. That way, the bad taste created by introducing compensation into the equation doesn’t linger as long.
Wetzel pointed out that Little League Baseball, Inc., turned a very tidy profit of nearly $3 million for fiscal year 2012. Its revenue was well over $24 million, and it carries assets totaling $78.5 million.
Clearly, that’s not chump change. But we’re chumps if we go along with his proposal.
Fans carp long and loud about major-leaguers being paid so handsomely to play a kid’s game. How, then, do we justify kids getting paid at all?
Another writer from Tennessee basically agreed with Wetzel, however. Jason Lamb profiled a successful team from South Nashville and mentioned the expenses attendant to tourney advancement — hotel rooms, meals, gas, etc.
Given the apparent state of Little League Baseball, Inc’s coffers, having that organization chip in something along the tournament trail wouldn’t seem to be asking too much. Designate a certain level of accomplishment to be reached, then reimburse as needed after that.
Before that point, teams should do as has always been done: solicit donations from businesses and individuals to raise funds. No, it’s not the easiest action to undertake in this economic climate, but truthfully it never has been.
Besides, kids can learn a valuable lesson along the way: If something is really worth having, it’s worth working for, too.
Getting back to the idea of player payment, here’s a point Wetzel failed to address: coaches and managers. Simply put, if players receive monetary compensation of some sort, what do we do about the people who instruct them?
Yeah, I know the players play, not the coaches. But let’s be honest — while none of the men guiding youth teams is on the same plane as a Joe Torre or Tony LaRussa when it comes to possessing baseball acumen, his athletes are also nowhere near as developed as those commanded by major-league bosses.
Thus, Sid the salesman, Pete the plumber and Bill the banker spend a greater chunk of time actually teaching the sport’s fundamentals to their charges. And the Torres and LaRussas of the baseball world never have to deal with players missing practice because of homework, piano lessons or being grounded for antagonizing a younger sibling.
Let’s not forget, either, that the managers and coaches have to take time away from their primary vocations in order to stay with their baseball teams for the duration of the club’s tournament appearance. Those unplanned vacations may not necessarily be paid ones; if that’s the case, then those men are making legitimate sacrifices.
Oh, and I almost forgot the main reason managers and coaches should receive remuneration ahead of the kids. Call it “combat pay” for having to cope with all the parental interference that inevitably is attached to the handling of any youth program.
Wetzel’s argument that because TV and Little League Baseball, Inc., are cashing in on the World Series, so should the “little guys” isn’t completely without merit. It just suffers from a lack of real-life sensibility.
Every profit-making enterprise finds itself in that condition because of contributions from many. But too often good workers in numerous fields are underappreciated and, worse, under-funded for their part in fattening a corporate bottom line.
Kids in the Little League World Series are no different. And because their ball playing is not a job, but a volunteered-for activity they are not entitled to anything more than whatever fleeting glory they can attain.
Hey, it could be worse. They could be spending the entire summer cutting grass and garnering no recognition whatsoever.
Then again if putting a few bucks toward college really is so important to them, maybe that’s the way to go.