If money could be convicted of statutory rape

In case you hadn’t heard, the latest to join the wealthy in America is a 13 year-old boy. Nike gets their hooks in another athlete.

Further down in the story, there’s mention of a high school kid getting a $90 million dollar contract. I didn’t know this tidbit, although I’m sure it was big news. Ninety million! Is this kid like Jesus with a basketball?

It’s so wrong on so many levels, I don’t know where to begin. My brain goes into vapor-lock trying to imagine being a teen with that kind of attention and cash.

I should have paid more attention in gym.

The high school kid you’re referring to is LeBron James whom the Cleveland Cavaliers are about to make the first choice in the upcoming NBA draft.

The only question I have about any of these deals is who is managing the money for the kid and who is in charge of keeping his feet on the ground? James mother took out a loan against his future earnings and bought him a Hummer during the basketball season. That worries me somewhat, but I did like the sense of humor James displayed about it. During the flurry of news stories and radio talk show obsession that broke out when the purchase was revealed, James spent a bit of pre-game time scooting an RC model hummer around his teammates’ ankles while they were warming up.

But, I digress. Why is this “wrong on so many levels.” Nike obviously expects their endorsement to pay off for them. Why shouldn’t the kids profit from their athletic ability when everyone else is?

Well, that soccer kid was approached by AC Milan for a pro contract - when he was 11. He’s also already able to graduate high school at 13, so it’s not like he’s been spending all his time on the soccer pitch. He’s a prodigy in more ways than one. The contract is also a month to month thing, apparently, so though 1 million dollars is the number thrown around I’m not sure how much of it is guaranteed.

LeBron James is a weird case. I mean, 90 million dollars and it’s not clear how good he will be in three years. Most of the NBA players to come straught out of high school needed a lot more training to be really competitive on the pro level. Even though a lot of people know James’s name, very few know his face - unlike Jordan or Barkley or Ming. It’s quite a gamble, I think.


Teenagers have been playing baseball in the major leagues since they were first formed. Bob Feller was signed by the Cleveland Indians in 1935 at age 16, and pitched his first exhibition game for them the following year while still a senior in high school (and struck out 17 St. Louis Cardinals in the process).

So why is it a big deal when a teenager signs with the pros in other sports?

I’m sure the contract is full of contingencies before the total $90 million would be paid out, so the gamble is not too huge. Nike signed Tiger Woods for $40 million (over five years) when he was just entering the PGA, but it reportedly had a number of performance-related standards in it that would limit the payout if Tiger ended up bombing. They ended up renegotiating a $100 million deal after only four years.

Not many people know LeBron James’ face now, but they will. With Jordan out, Nike needs someone to support their marquee shoe lines. They are hoping that James shows enough NBA talent to be made into the next marketing juggernaut.

Love the $90 million shoe deal. This after the $50 million Tiger Wood’s Nike deal.

At least now I know how Nike can pay a Mylasian kid $1.25 a day to make shoes and sell them to me for $100 while not showing enormous profits.

LeBron would have been the #1 pick last year had he been eligible. Everyone has known he would be the #1 this year for, oh, 18 months or so…

At the risk of being labeled a pinko, I find the amount of cash being tossed around in the sports business is typically obscene… but ninety million? How can there be any poverty in this country when there’s that kind of money to give to promising children. Children who play sports well.

I love football season; I don’t miss a Sunday. I love watching great players. I know the money is out there for the taking, but just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.

I know I’m not in line with many folks here, but I think the massive profits of sports is out of control. And the payouts to these kids (Tiger included) illustrates that companies such as Nike have too much risk capital. How can anyone be empoverished in this country when we have so much money to throw away on prospective entertainers?

And then a second layer of this that bothers me: The message to kids is this: To be recognized by this society, be great athletes. Fuck everything else. Giving this kind of cash to an athletic kid reinforces the idea that this is all we aspire to become – entertainers.

No you have raised some good points. It is unfair that sports stars are rewarded with million dollar contracts.

And then a second layer of this that bothers me: The message to kids is this: To be recognized by this society, be great athletes. Fuck everything else. Giving this kind of cash to an athletic kid reinforces the idea that this is all we aspire to become – entertainers.

It’s a shame we don’t reward our top scientists with similar sums of money.

This discussion has gone on forever and is re0invigorated every time some new magical figure is hit or the player in question gets younger. When we quit watching, quit buying tickets, and buying T-Shirts the salaries will go down. Until then, that’s just the way it is.

If Scientists can put on a show 50,000 people want to see with beakers and microscopic slide shows of amoeba battling to the death, they will be paid that much.

This may sound pretty stupid but I think games like basketball, football, and soccer are different than baseball when it comes to the age. I’m not saying that baseball is an easy game (it’s not), or that it doesn’t require experience and a strategic mind (it does), but it seems that basketball requires much more of someone. LeBron might be an excellent player, but there’s some doubt in my mind about how well he’ll hold up for 30 minutes or more against some of the top tier players. Basketball is a pretty aggressive sport and the best players are the ones willing to get in there and stand their ground while maintaining their composure enough to see the next play. I’m not sure that a guy out of highschool can handle that, at least for a while.

In the end I’m sure he’ll wind up being great, but I wouldn’t be suprised if he underperformed in the first season.

When a teen signs a basketball contract, he’s playing against Shaquille O’Neal. When a teen signs a major league baseball contract, he typically goes to the minors and usually doesn’t face Pedro Martinez until he’s 22-24 years old. Only a handful of players go directly from college to the pros, and even fewer go from high school to the pros. Few teens other than Feller and Doc Gooden performed particularly well as a teenager when called the major leagues.

Those are all contact sports, and when your body is developing, chances are running into a guy that’s already developed, and been spending years chiseling his body into granite, ouch. First time Lebron James runs into a Shaq, or even someone like Kenyon Martin, he’s in for a rude awakening. He’ll get his highlight reel dunks, but he’s going to feel some serious pain too.

Think of the possibilities! Micro-Thunderdome, broadcast the world over!


And just wait till Master Blaster shows up! :P

There are scientists that use their knowledge to make millions of dollars - they’re called Genentech. They just don’t get much press.

They also get a lot of criticism for making money, since their work actually involves life & death instead of just sports.

Whining about sports money is always stupid. The science counterpart of a major leaguer is almost certainly wealthier than the athlete. It’s just that some Ph.D getting $450 million when he sells his company isn’t front page news. You want to get upset about sums of money tossed around, try reading Forbes or something. If $90 million is obscene, you’ll probably need to sit down.

People complain about money in sports because of three general reasons-

  1. Publicity, as above
  2. Jealousy, obviously. Not just the money, though anyone would be jealous of 90 mil, but because the athlete gets it for doing something we did as kids. I didn’t cut billion dollar mergers or genetically engineer corn as a child, at least.
  3. Racism, most obviously with regard to people complaining about basketball players going to the pros at 18. Nobody gives a shit when a baseball team picks some pitcher from Nebraska and gives him $2.5 million at 18, but let some negro pass on college and everybody gets on the soapbox.

Nice try on that one, and since I know at least 80% of the people on this forum will gobble it up hook, line, and sinker I guess I’ll respond.

College Baseball.

College Basketball.

Enough of a hint? In case its not I’ll continue…

Noone cares whether a high school baseball player goes to college because noone cares about college baseball! It isn’t Big Business like basketball is. The NCAA has an 11-year $6 Billion television contract for example. LOTS of people prefer watching College Basketball to Pro Basketball, and these people aren’t thrilled to see top talent bypassing what they WANT to see in favor of what they DON’T want to see.

Noone cares if a Track athlete goes to college or turns “Pro” even though most are black, because again noone cares about college Track.

If all Lacrosse players were black, noone would care if they went to college or skipped right to the Pros.

Shouldn’t people have bitched about Ken Griffey Jr. not going to college, under your “Racism” argument? Funny… I heard not a peep.

People also bitch about WHITE players leaving early, as long as its a Big Business college sport.

Here’s a weird idea…

Your big reward for being real good at basketball is YOU GET TO PLAY BASKETBALL FOR A LIVING!

I mean hell, other people play it for FUN. It’s a SPORT. I’m not saying these pro athletes don’t work hard and shouldn’t be rewarded, but I think it’s all gone out of hand and lost perspective. These guys are entertainers, they’re not saving lives. They’re not teaching our kids valuable skills and molding them into productive members of society. They’ve made it clear they don’t want to be seen as role models so they’re not accountable for their rediculous lifestyles.

I think a salary cap of $1 mil per year per player is more than enough, and endorsement caps should be simliar. You get to play a freaking SPORT - the sport you love so much you became world-class at it! - every day and get paid for it. A million bucks a year is tons of money. You could retire after five years of play and with even modest investements and still have over $100,000 a year.

Or even pay the players entirely in shares of the sports franchise, non-transferrable, so they have incentive to make it grow and promote it and stick with their team.

First time Lebron James runs into a Shaq, or even someone like Kenyon Martin, he’s in for a rude awakening.

I like how you say “A Shaq,” as if they are common. :)

Not that I know that much about how professional sports work, but why let the owners of the teams and Nike and all the others keep all the big bucks? Hell, why not give it to the athletes?

You have to assume the teams and marketing groups wouldn’t pay so much if they didn’t think it was a good chance it would be profitable. If there was some kind of cap, do you really think tickets to sporting events would get any cheaper? Do you think Nike would start selling shoes for considerably less than $100 a pair? It would all go in The Man’s pocket!

Koontz- I realize arguing with you is a waste of even my time, but Christ, Lebron is older than the guy who will be drafted after him. Nobody cares that Darko Milicic isn’t going to attend college.

Jason- What do you do for a living so I can do a find and replace? Athletes get paid a lot because there is a lot of money in professional sports. I don’t know why so many non-superrich are in favor of transferring money to the owners of the teams(the poorest of whom has a net worth higher than any athlete outside perhaps Jordan). If your net worth is above 800 million I can see where the sentiment comes from, but from a normal joe guy I don’t quite understand why you’d endorse an wealth concentration scheme with almost socialist language.