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Income Inequality and The Super Bowl

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – JANUARY 28: A Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Blackhawk helicopter flies past MetLife Stadium ahead of Super Bowl XLVIII on January 28, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Helicopters flown by “air interdiction agents” from the CBP’s Office of Air and Marine (OAM), are providing air support for Super Bowl XLVIII this Sunday. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Income inequality is the, pick your adjective, new or old, buzzword of the current political climate. The gap between the lowest paid people and those in the corner office keeps getting wider according to politicians. It’s totally unfair and our elected leaders will not let this stand.

What exactly does that mean — income inequality? Why does the income of Bill Gates or Warren Buffet have anything to do with you? I thought I’d use an upcoming worldwide event to illustrate the fallacy of this fuzzy logic.

Super Bowl XLVIII

This coming Sunday, February 2nd, the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks will line up across from each other for about four hours to determine the best team in the National Football League. It will be the most watched event on the planet and a sizable audience will be there solely to check out the commercials and half time show.

Virtually no one will give a second thought to the perfect example of income inequality on display that afternoon. Each team will have about 60 players all playing different positions that require various skill levels and all paid differently for performing exactly the same work.

Income by Position

The highest paid player on most footballs teams is the quarterback. The team leader who calls the plays on the field. The CEO of the team. The offensive line consists of a center, two tackles, two guards and a tight end. Their job is to protect the quarterback during pass plays and to try to open holes for the running back in running plays.

The remaining offense would be wide receivers, and running backs. These are the scorers. These folks specialize in catching passes for touchdowns or running for touchdowns. Then you have what is traditionally the highest scoring member of the team — the field goal kicker.

The defense consists of defensive lineman, defensive ends, linebackers, two safeties, and defensive backs. Their job is to stop the opposing offense from advancing the ball and/or scoring.

Equal Pay for Equal Work

Are all these players paid the same according to their positions on the field? The short answer is NO!! Players have signed a contract with their respective teams to perform at a certain level for agreed on compensation. They agreed to work for a specific dollar amount regardless of what others were being paid. If they felt the compensation was unacceptable they have the option to walk away and sell their skills elsewhere.

Each players contract is based on experience, ability, and longevity in the league. Better players can demand higher compensation based on the skills needed for the success of the team. Linemen don’t make quarterback salaries. The highest scoring player on the team, the field goal kicker, might make less than some of the linemen.

If any two linemen are paid the same it’s more coincidence than equality. Yet all of them are doing the same exact job.

Some Final Thoughts

Recently, the New York Yankees baseball team signed Masahiro Tanaka. Tanaka is a pitcher from Japan. They are paying him $155 million dollars to play a child’s game. No one gives a second thought to his pay versus the vendor in the stands selling peanuts. I wonder why that is? Why is the pay for a CEO who produces products we all need and use such a greedy, despicable, cad yet a baseball player gets a free pass.

I believe the reason is that we can see the accomplishments of the player on the field while we are unable to grasp the benefits the CEO provides.

If a CEO making $100 million dollars is unfair, why not share that wealth with the people of Montana. All 1 million of us would get a cool $100 bill. Now that would really go a long way to narrowing the gap.

While you are downing your beer and chip’s this Sunday give a little thought to the vast display of income inequality you are witnessing. In spite of this unfairness everyone on the field has one goal — to perform to the best of their individual ability and win. Each player on both sides of the ball will try to contribute to their own success and to that of their company (the team). I don’t think anyone will walk out demanding more pay.

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