Peter Braun
Born in Prague; former Skokie resident

The Total Idealism and Fairness of Sports

The Idealism and Fairness of Sports – and Why I Love the Draft

Recently, I have watched two documentaries by Robert Reich, our former Secretary of Labor, on widening income inequality in America. CEO pay and corporate executive pay keeps rising; while the salaries of basic laborers are stagnant or declining. As my Jewish parents used to say, the rich are getting richer; and the poor are getting poorer.

I don’t love the unfairness of our society. Many of our toughest and hardest jobs, such as those of paramedics, firemen, policemen, and rescue people do not pay overly high salaries. On the other hand, computer experts get paid very handsomely, for jobs that are not as physically demanding or always as stressful; or always as life-saving.

What I most love in the world is sports and its almost ideal sense of fair play. In the world of NBA basketball, the very worst team tends to get a very high draft pick, if not the number one pick. The lowly Cleveland Cavaliers nabbed a top pick and chose Lebron James. He took them to the playoffs. The lowly Chicago Bulls landed Michael Jordan. Very soon afterward, the Bulls made the playoffs.

Via draft picks, lowly teams have gone from worst to first. Sports are amazing. Every city and every team has hope. Teams do not riot or create civil unrest when they are bad because they know that there is a chance that they will be good again. They always have some hope. (Keep hope alive).

There is even some fairness and equality with revenue sharing and salary caps. The New York Knicks are not allowed to spend 300 million dollars on their team’s payroll to create a super team; while the New Orleans Pelicans can only afford a 60 million dollar team. With a salary cap of about 100 million, every team’s salary can be similar. Some do go over the cap, but not without steep penalties. There is a certain amount of equality and fairness built into the NBA.

In many sports, the high revenue teams share revenue with the low revenue teams to help them out. Here is an example and definition of revenue sharing: What is revenue sharing in baseball?   Basically, each team contributes 34 percent of its net local revenue into a pool that gets divided equally among every team. Higher-earning clubs put in more than they get back while lower-earning clubs receive more than they put in.

Wow! Who knew that even in America there are shades of socialism in sports. What a concept! We love more equality and fairness in sports because it makes them more entertaining. Baseball would not be too much fun if the New York Yankees won the world series every single year, fifty years in a row. We like to see underdogs do well. We like to see the rise of teams and the fall of dominant teams.

What is a shame, and what is too bad, is that all of this fairness and idealism in sports cannot be found in regular society. In regular society, we want certain minorities to always be at the bottom. We want to be able to underpay those who are not sophisticated. We take advantage of new immigrants. There is a lack of fairness in society. Too bad that those at the bottom don’t always get the top draft picks. IE: Widows and Orphans get to pay reduced taxes; Students in under-performing schools get to recruit top teaching candidates who get to work tax-free or with government perks. New immigrants in America could get financial help, language classes, and reduced rent upon moving to America, just like in Israel.

I am not sure what getting a top draft pick means in regular society. It would seem to hover around reduced taxes, help with education and skill acquisition, more affordable housing, more libraries, parks, and recreation activities in low-income areas; better public schools; better social services; and business perks for hiring low-income employees.

All I know is that the sports world tends to be more ideal and fairer than the non-sports world. It would be nice if regular society could better emulate the wonderfulness of pro sports. There are so many nice elements of sports. The minimum wage is actually very high. There tends to be a maximum wage so that one player doesn’t get 99 percent of a team’s payroll. There are good retirement benefits or pensions. Pro sports tend to have unions. Every player has an agent fighting for them. (I wish I had had an agent during my business career.) Thus, in conclusion, I say: let us learn from sports and apply some of their ideals and values to the rest of society.  

About the Author
Born in Prague of the Czech Republic. Moved to the U.S. in 1968, during the Czech Spring. The son of two Holocaust Survivors, orphans, who worked in healthcare or science. I have a brother who is a Klezmer musician in Chicago. I studied creative writing during college at Northwestern University in Evanston. For my career, I have mainly worked in IT, as a desktop publisher, database publisher, and intranet web publisher. For writing, I have written user manuals, help files, and training manuals.
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