Occupy Madison Square Garden?

December 5, 2011

Political Theory


The average American makes $50,000 a year.

The average NBA player makes $5,000,000 a year.

The average MLB player makes $2,800,000 a year.

The average NFL player makes $1,750,000 a year.

The average NHL player makes $1,500,000 a year.

If we consider the 1% to be those making more than $500,000, then the athletes mentioned above would make at least 3 times as much as the unfairly rich (according to the 99% represented in the Occupy Wall Street).  Carmelo Anthony makes about 20,000,000 a year, which is 40 times more than the 1% baseline.  Why doesn’t this matter to those Occupying Wall Street?

Karl Marx was a German philosopher who was very critical of the capitalist economic system.  He called it the “dictatorship of the bourgeoisie,” which sounds like a tyrannical kingdom in which the constituents have very little say in what happens.  Karl Marx would be outraged if he could see the state of our economy today.  According to the Occupy Wall Street website, “the one thing we all have in common is that We Are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%.”

Marx believed and hoped that under socialism, the working class would run the show.  Technically, the players are the workers in this situation, but it is clear that NBA players are greedy, so how would Marx and OWS react to this situation of wealth?

Lebron James: the highest paid NBA player

How can we classify the NBA under capitalism?  Even after the 2011 lockout, the salary distribution was 51-49, players to owners.  So, who really is running the show?  Would this already be what Marx called the “dictatorship of the proletariat”?

What do you think about this whole situation?  Should athletes be included in Marx’s working class even though they clearly display traits of the 1%?  Should the next “Occupy _______” be on center court down the road at Madison Square Garden since athletes incomes are much higher then what the 1% is considered to be?

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5 Comments on “Occupy Madison Square Garden?”

  1. Matthew Bernstein Says:

    I think that this is an excellent point that needs to be addressed in this era of economic hardship. The fact that professional athletes are completely disregarded in terms of how much money they make is preposterous. Yes, these athletes are the best in the world at what they do and provide a source of entertainment for the entire world to enjoy. However, does the best teacher in the world make $20 million per year? How about the best bus driver? Or even the best nurse? Nope, these public servants are stuck making what is expected of someone in their profession, even if they deserve above and beyond what they make.

    Furthermore, most of these athletes making these ridiculous sums of money every year are not even educated enough to responsibly spend/invest their money. Antoine Walker is a famous example of a former NBA All-Star who was forced to file Chapter 11 bankruptcy within five years of leaving the league because he never went to college, and therefore had no education on how to wisely save/spend money. Latrell Sprewell is another. The list goes on and on.

    If the people that are protesting throughout the entire country blatantly ignore the “1% of the 1%” that is professional athletes, they are doing themselves a disservice as it makes them extremely hypocritical.

  2. blogger32 Says:

    I think this is a really cool post that brings about some interesting things I have not thought about before. I think you make a very interesting point about how so many people are up in arms about the big money makers on Wall Street, but they are forgetting about these professional athletes who are making even more money. I think part of the reason there has not been an Occupy Madison Square Garden, is that we view professional athletes as entertainers. Whether working as an investment banker or at the local McDonald’s, I think sports fans do not view professional athletes as working class citizens, but rather entertainment celebrities.

    Another reason why I feel athletes should not be viewed as part of the working class, is because they constitute a very elite number of people who were able to make it to the professional ranks. Think about how many people aspired to be the next Michael Jordan or Derek Jeter….millions of children around the world do…but only a few hundred get the chance to even make it to the NBA or MLB. For that reason, I do not think it’s fair to view athletes as part of the working class, because they are such an elite group of individuals. The 1% that everyone talks about with occupy Wall Street, is still millions of people….the number of professional athletes in the 4 major sports is less than 5,000. Lastly, I think it’s important that we allow these athletes to keep their money, because unlike their Wall Street counterparts, many of them have not attained college degrees and know very little about how to safely manage their wealth. This lack of education has led many prominent athletes to file for bankruptcy.

  3. rschles92 Says:

    While professional athletes are often criticized for being overpaid people do not typically think of the benefit that they provide to others. Athletes are idolized. People want to adorn themselves in their clothing, pay outrageous sums of money to see them perform their craft, and treat them like gods. This all causes two things: money and prestige. Tons of jobs are created as a result of athletes. Whether its working in a stadium or manufacturing team garb, employees can thank athletes for their source of income. It is a business that creates a lot of retail consumption.
    Sports have also been a huge point of pride for a country. The 1980 Miracle on Ice was unbelievably important for morale during a dicey portion of the Cold War. Jesse Owens’ performance at the 1936 Summer Olympic Games in front of Adolf Hitler was a major embarrassment for Hitler’s Germany. Sports are a reflection of a country’s success. The fact that the US typically has the best athletes in the world is important. And if they’re not from the US they usually play professionally here. It is symbol of dominance and enhances our image.
    It is justified to be frustrated with athletes because they do not seem to honorably do their jobs. However, it is important to keep in mind what they do in the bigger picture.

  4. Austin Telling Says:

    The reason why professional athletes are paid so much is the fact that the people allow them to be. When fans buy tickets, merchandise, and watch games on TV, it gives money to the sports organizations, teams, and eventually the players. When there is demand for a product, then the price of that product will go up. Compare salaries for players in the MLB to players in the minor leagues. The minimum MLB salary is almost $500,000. The minimum salary for players in the minor leagues is just under $70,000. Why is that? It’s because there is more demand for the MLB player than the minor league player.

    Occupying a professional sporting event wouldn’t make sense, as the people could theoretically totally shut down all sporting events if they just refused to watch games or give the leagues any money.

  5. evanhw Says:

    I have to agree with rschles92. Athletes possess special talents, in their respected profession, that our nation has traditionally paid large amounts of money to spectate. No other people in the world have the ability to showcase for the rest of the nation, athletics that are worth watching. In fact, we’ll pay whatever it takes to make sure sports continues to thrive as our country’s leading source of entertainment. The amount of revenue sports produce rely heavily on us, the spectators, to support monetarily. The distribution of money within the NBA, prior to the lockout, was unquestionably lopsided. However the amount of money we collectively spend to see athletes perform every week is worth every penny. As viewers, we forget how special professional athletes really are and what they do for our country outside the realm of sports.

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