When thinking about baseball players, the word “underpaid” is probably not the first thing to come to your head. After all, the Major League minimum salary in 2014 was a cool $500k. The league’s highest paid players brought in over $20 million. Yet most people don’t realize that the vast majority of professional ballplayers make pennies compared to those at the top of the food chain. A terrific profile authored by Toronto Star reporter Brendan Kennedy this past week sheds light on the 6,000+ minor leaguers who play entire seasons (including Spring Training) for as little as $6,250.
A lawsuit filed earlier this year by several dozen former players accuses Major League Baseball, an organization that boasts billions of dollars in revenue, of failing to pay its minor leaguers minimum wage. As Kennedy notes, competing narratives about baseball-as-job and baseball-as-dream stifle any possibilities of unionization:
“There is a dissonance that occurs in every conversation with a minor-league player. When they talk about their commitment to the team and what’s expected of them, they use the language of employment: This is a business. I gotta do my job. This is what we get paid to do. But when the topic of their actual salaries comes up, they fall back on a different kind of cliché: You can’t put a price on a dream. We play a kid’s game. I’m doing what I love… the biggest roadblock to unionization is the players’ reluctance to rock the boat for fear of risking their careers.”
So the question becomes whether or not you can put a price on following your dreams. Many ballplayers have answered that with “no” and continue plodding along, competing day-in and day-out for meager pay in hopes of one day reaching the bigs. Others, admittedly a minority, realize that their labor is supporting an industry that makes a lot of people very, very rich and that it’s not outrageous to want a fair cut of the profits.
Take a look at Kennedy’s terrific full piece (linked below), definitely worth a full read.
Read more at theToronto Star
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