Why I can’t respect professional athletes

(Disclaimer: I love professional baseball, hockey and football. I really do. And many pros are respectable, upstanding people.)

News broke this week that Brett Favre has been talking with the Redskins about coming out of retirement, for the second year in a row. After the fiasco last year (is he coming or his he staying? will the packers take him back or are they moving on?), he played for the Jets for one year only to retire again, but now he might want back in. Whether anything comes of this or not, it solidifies for me my disappointment after last year’s events. Favre, who was always portrayed as the every man country boy who just loved the game, seemed to be as shallow and self-absorbed as the next football star, toying with fans, teammates and managers at every whim. Year after year, he debated retiring to spend more time with his family, but usually stayed in the game (dis to the fam!). After finally retiring, he decided to come back and what, actually expected his team to welcome him back with open arms? Never mind that they’d been working on a roster for months (props to the Pack for turning him down). His image in my mind suddenly overwhelmingly careless and selfish. As a lifelong Bears fan, I never really liked Favre, but at least I used to respect him.

With the NBA play-offs in full swing, I’m also reminded once again of my dislike for this league, shaped by the 1990s decline of the Chicago Bulls. I grew up cheering for the dominant team and iconic faces, but after years with the team and comments of never wanting to be anywhere else, Michael Jordan and Phil Jackson both abandoned Chicago to “retire.” As we all soon found out, this really meant “take a quick break and go somewhere else,” where they could have more power and/or make more money. Did they really not care about the years they’d spend in Chicago or the other athletes they’d worked with? Was it really all about the money? I was so disheartened by the lack of loyalty to a team or city that I really haven’t followed the NBA since.

I still love major league baseball and professional football and follow my teams loyally, but these sports, too, are tainted by greed and selfishness. It’s ridiculous the things many of these athletes think they are entitled to and the astounding offers they will turn down. Yes, they are extremely talented, but do they really deserve to make more money than the president and CEOs of major companies? I have to say no. Which is why, even though I understand the business and love the sports, it frustrates me how much money gets thrown into professional athletics. Many salaries could be cut down and the athletes could still live extremely comfortable. I have to think, what if those extra millions of dollars went toward something more valuable, like education or healthcare or the national debt? Just think of all the good that could be done.

  1. Adam Spencer

    I’m a lifelong Packers fan, and when I heard he wanted to play for the Vikings, I lost a lot of respect for him. I usually tend to think that athletes (like Michael Jordan) come back from retirement because they can’t stand to be away from it, but I completely understand your point of view. Playing is all they know how to do. What is Favre going to do if he quits football? He doesn’t want to coach. Mowing grass on his farm will get old pretty quick. I’ve always thought he will need to be told by doctors that he physically can’t play anymore before he will quit. I’m actually writing a long piece about Favre for Column5Blog.com.

    P.S. I’m going up to a Cardinals-Cubs game at Wrigley sometime this summer. Should be fun. Go Cardinals 🙂

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