The price we as a country and for that matter the world will pay as a result of COVID-19 will be heavy. The most obvious being loss of life, no matter how well it is ultimately contained the toll will be too great. Economically much of the world will be crippled, potentially for years to come.
Today, I’d like to discuss the impact this shutdown could have on the players we spend so much time rooting and following as they play the games we love. If you just see them all as overpaid, maybe stop reading, I’ll do nothing to convince you to care.
A typical career for one of us citizens will span 40-50 years. We’ll toil away building our reputation, skill set and hopefully paychecks as we travel that path. Every decision you make and risk you take either moves you forward or keeps you where you are. The growth is usually fairly steady and if everything goes right you retire comfortably to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Small businesses take a leap at the beginning. Choosing to work for themselves many will never do more than support their own family and a few employees for the duration of their career. An event like this is something they can ill afford. Despite popular belief, many of these folks aren’t driving Mercedes and lighting cigars with 100-dollar bills. That said, this too is a venture that can easily span a lifetime.
Baseball players suffer the same perception in many ways, people see them as millionaires who don’t deserve our concern. The average baseball career will last 5.6 years as of the latest figures and while I realize your favorite player will probably be in the league a whole lot longer than that, reality is there are far more who play closer to this number.
Yes, the average MLB salary is around 4.1 million. Over the course of a career, that’s a nice chunk of money and spent wisely they should find a way to be set for life. Take into account the debt incurred simply trying to make it to the show and it gets a bit murkier. Now imagine your average career, witch at most gives you one contract year beyond the rookie contracts and arbitration years.
Something like this is unprecedented and will affect us all in different ways. To the typical 40-50-year career person, this will be little more than a weird blip they look back on in a long life’s work. Even if you’ve been laid off, chances are when all this clears up you resume your career either were you were or a new opportunity.
For many small businesses, unless someone does something to pay their rent or mortgage, secure loans, or recover monies lost from inventory that went bad they will shutter forever. Some of these hearty entrepreneurs will surely hurt at the loss of what they’ve built, but many who are young enough to start again will do exactly that. Others will have to face the possibility of working for someone else after a lifetime of building the life they wanted to live.
Now take that 40-50-year span and condense it into 5 or 6 years. That’s how long you have to make your money, build your reputation and your brand. Chop a year out of that timeline and you can see just how crippling that could be.
Financially, of course, but it’s bigger than that for some players. Those who signed the one year “bet on yourself” contracts, will have to do it again, now two years removed from the last time they did anything productive on the field. Others will miss the opportunity all together. The agreement struck to ensure service time will cause a chain reaction of decisions to be made.
I don’t write all this so that you feel bad for baseball players or to say the game is more valuable that human life. I’m simply saying “we’re all in this together” should mean more than a cool frame on your Facebook profile picture.
When events like this happen, we need to remember everyone. While we miss the game, its somehow far more than that to those who play it as a profession.
Stay safe out there everyone.