Like most of you, I'm still trying to figure out what the economic stimulus package means to me, other than maybe a few bridges in the area receiving a facelift.
According to estimates, the stimulus package is expected to put an average of $13 per week into the hands of tax-paying citizens. That comes out to $676 a year, a figure that's expected to help jump start the economy but in reality will probably increase sales of lottery tickets.
Let's face it, not all American consumers are wise when spending money. Give someone a check for $676, and it probably won't go into a fund for his kid's education or the purchase of a needed appliance. Odds are the guy will blow it on something he doesn't need, like a lower-bowl seat for a Cavaliers game.
It's amazing how recession-proof the professional sports scene has become. While thousands of workers have been laid off country-wide, money continues to roll into the coffers of athletic teams. The stock market might be in a free fall, but salary caps for pro leagues are on the rise.
The worst addiction in the United States is to sports. We pay exorbitant ticket prices, hand out $20 for parking and drop $15 for a beer and a hamburger to see the big game. No wonder LeBron James is pulling in a salary of $16,378,325.
When will this addiction end? Intervention tactics would seem to be a lost cause, although it might make for good reality TV. I'd like to see the wife and kids sitting down with dad and telling him he needs to drop "The NFL Network" from his viewing habits to save money. He might be willing to do without some channels, but, "Please," he might plead with sweat dripping down his forehead, "not The NFL Network!"
One possibility might be for President Obama to intervene and announce a bailout plan for those that are addicted to sports. Since the president likes the idea of limiting what executives of big corporations can take home, why not force the Cavs to limit James' salary to $10 million a year?
The cost savings would allow the Cavs to lower ticket prices, which would make for an easier hit on the wallet for those that just can't stay away. It's a win-win situation. James is still filthy rich, and fans would be able make their mortgage payments, instead of having others do it for them.
We all know that's not going to happen. Star athletes are classic capitalists, which, after all, is the American way. As long as the public pays for personal seat licenses, loges, club seats and high ticket prices, athletes deserve every penny they make.
The big question is how much longer will the public be able to deal with the financial reality of feeding their addictions? There have been signs of change. The NFL - the mightiest of professional sports leagues - recently laid off employees. The Browns laid off several employees from the non-football part of the organization and decided against raising ticket prices.
Virtually every form of employment has been hit hard by the recession. The time is coming for professional athletes. Why do you think agents for many high-priced stars are lining up to get new deals for their clients as soon as possible?
My advice to college athletes is to jump ship and join the pros when the opportunity arises and strike it rich while money is still flowing. The bubble could be about to burst.
It might be better for fans when it does happen, but $676 still won't go far at the concession stand.