Professional athletes: what else do they want?

By Grayson Kelly
I. J. Samson Junior High
St. John's, Newfoundland

Today, professional athletes make more money than many company owners. Not only do they make all this money, but they ask for more.

Being paid to play a sport is a dream in itself but I feel that the true love for sports will be lost amongst the lawyers, contracts and greed. I realize that athletes give up an awful lot to entertain the fans. They give up their body, much of their social life, and most have wives, husbands and children to take care of. Leaving them for three quarters of a year cannot be easy either.

Pavel Bure
I don't want to take anything away from athletes, but holding out and not even playing because they aren't receiving their preferred paycheck is disgusting. One example is Pavel Bure, now part of the Florida Panthers franchise, who recently played for the Vancouver Canucks. He never played for the first part of the National Hockey League season because of contract problems. I feel that being able to take part in something renowned as the NHL is something kids dream of, and these players are wasting it because they aren't getting as much money as they want.

I'm worried that most of the rookies coming to play in either the NHL or the National Basketball League or any other league will act in this same manner, and the real grit and heart of the sport will be lost. Sports players now are becoming too much of a media event and athletes are always getting in trouble for something. What kind of role model are they setting for young children who idolize these figures? They are teaching kids that it is okay to beat your children and wives, or rape women they find while drinking downtown.

Half the world watches everything these athletes do. Morals are being lost. A college basketball team had to eliminate three of their top players on their team for the NCAA playoffs because their teachers fixed the players' marks on one of their tests. Things like this are happening every day and the world is taking cues from this behaviour. Professional athletes are always being put on display, and everything they do will end up on the five o'clock news. Then why do it? Is it worth it? Because they are always being publicised, athletes must watch what they do and what they say. And give a little without expecting money in return. Charging money for autographs, telling kids to "get lost," these things are becoming too frequent and must end. Such a stature shouldn't be allowed to act in these ways.

Playing sports for a career is a blessing in itself. But athletes who bitterly argue over how much money he or she should make, or why aren't they making as much as this person are taking over our beloved sports. The last year brought many great moments such as the 70 home runs of Mark Maguire and a record-breaking 114 win season for the New York Yankees. Those are all good reasons to give athletes more money. The real heart of sports fans shines through with that tingling feeling you get inside when you watch "Big Mac" blast his 70th home run out of the park, or that one tear that accidentally flows out while watching Michael Jordan's official retirement. These are the things that sports are all about, and shouldn't be forgotten. After all, sports are made to be fun, and that's the way they should stay.