Thursday, November 13, 2014

At What Price Glory?

Comments made this week by Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose are leading to a discussion about what professional athletes owe the fans--and what we fans owe the players.  In addressing his playing in only half of the Bulls games so far this regular season Rose said:

“I feel I’ve been managing myself pretty good. I know a lot of people get mad when they see me sit out. But I think a lot of people don’t understand that when I sit out, it’s not because of this year. I’m thinking about long term. I’m thinking about after I’m done with basketball, having graduations to go to, having meetings to go to.
“I don’t want to be in my meetings all sore or be at my son’s graduation all sore just because of something I did in the past. Just learning and being smart.’’

Bulls fans and reporters who cover the team are now questioning Rose's dedication to the team and the sport.  The big question is whether or not Rose is willing to make the sacrifices "required" to be an elite player and to win championships.  They also point to Rose's salary--$17.63-MILLION this season--and his huge Addidas shoe endorsement deal--worth a reported $185-MILLION over 13-years--as all the "incentive" he should need to play as many games as possible despite a history of knee injuries.  Heck, for that much, Rose could probably hire someone to carry him into all meetings and graduation ceremonies for the rest of his life.

But is that a reasonable expectation from us the fans--that pro athletes use up every bit of strength, mobility and energy that their bodies have for our entertainment?  You go to one of those NFL alumni events and everyone walks with a limp and they can't raise their arms above their heads and their fingers are all gnarled and you realize the physical toll that they paid.  Of course, if you were to ask any of those guys if they would have sat out games to avoid ending up in that condition, 99.99% of them would tell you "no way"--because they wanted to be out there--hurt or not--and that is what made them great.

So I don't think we should begrudge Derrick Rose his desire to sit out games in the prime of his athletic career so he's not "sore at any graduations".  But he should "enjoy" that with far less cash in his bank account--and likely no NBA Championship rings on his fingers.

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