Recently I handed over a small sum of money,enough to buy a standard sliding glass door(since I am remodeling I equate everything I spend to what I could have purchased) to watch a college football game. My son was thrilled to “show off” his Alma mater. Since neither myself nor my husband went to large universities and had never seen a game while he attended an undergraduate program there, we agreed it was time to “experience” the momentum of the Big Ten games. The week before we visited, a neighbor shared with me that she had plunked down enough money for concert tickets to a favorite group to feed her family (of 4)for a month! For a long time I have been wondering what is wrong with this mindset? Why are we willing to pay exorbitant money for the thrill a a few hours with our favorite teams on the field or our favorite groups on the stage?
I am not saying that the natural talent in sports or the arts doesn’t require years of discipline, practice and self sacrificing at times but so does the path it takes to become a neurosurgeon. But surgeons cannot dream of making the monies in their lifetime that a rock star or famous pitcher or quarterback can nor will they ever have the luxury of raking in passive income from the many endorsements they may have. Many athletes had their education subsidized fully by their schools while the M.D. might still be paying off loans decades after graduation. It is not that the doctor leads a shabby life but really no one waits around after surgery for his autograph even though he may have saved someone’s life.
It is true that as long as individuals are willing to plunk down whatever it takes to get into the sports venues, or see the shows or concerts, then we will continue to promote the unbelievable income some of these individuals earn, not totally based on sacrifice or even skill but often on the adulation and interest of their fans. Have we created a society that rewards pleasure more than one that supports practicality?
I know policemen and women who put themselves in harms way daily but whose wage is so low that they cannot raise a family on their single income from law enforcement alone and are forced to supplement their wages with a second or third job. I know individuals in the military who have sacrificed everything from a warm meal and soft bed to body parts who are barely getting by paying their bills and trying to stay afloat. These are not the individuals who we wait in line for, stretching our credit line to its limits just to see. Why are we willing to do it for some people who care little what happens to us in the name of entertainment?
We might know the answer, but that didn’t stop one of my husband’s colleagues from admitting that season tickets to his favorite team was two times as much as his mortgage payment.
What does it say about our values in America when a 23 year old ice hockey center can earn more in a season than a lieutenant can earn even after a dozen years putting his life on the line? Does earning notoriety and a cover on a national magazine matter more than earning a decent living? We might say, “of course not” but that is not what our actions indicate.
I had a blast at the game and was thrilled the team I rooted for won, but I had little to show when the game ended but pictures and memories and I could barely make eye contact with the policeman directing the crowds out of the stadium because I knew I was guilty of paying to see a display of talent that hardly deserved the attention most of society gives them.
Have you contributed to the high cost of pleasure in America ?
What do you think we should or could do to change that impression?