Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Poor Sportsman...ship

So, here's the thing. In our society there is a perhaps unfair standard that the more money you make, the less we want to hear you whine about your job. Because, sure we all have days, week, years where we know if we just had a better manager, a better co-worker, other people to pick up the slack or to do all the crap that was never supposed to be your job in the first place, that our live would be better. Our jobs would be better. And we would be better at our jobs. If we had the tools and resources we needed. And we all have had those times when we knew we were under-appreciated. That management wasn't using our skills in the best way. And if they would just listen - then it would all be better.

But when your salary hits six-plus digits - people are less understanding of your woes. And when you play a sport for a living - people are less understanding. Perhaps it's the "play" that throws us off. Since the verb play makes it sound as if your job couldn't really be hard - it gets easier to wonder why you have all this time to whine.

In any job, our society measures your worth by how much you make. Your market value. So, it makes sense that athletes (or actors, but that's a whole other thing) would work hard to show that they are the best by getting paid the most. And I don't begrudge them that. But once you hit a certain tax bracket - even factoring in the shorter career span, the increased risk of bodily harm - my tolerance for complaints goes down. If you have concerns about management sure. But hey, if you keep dropping balls or pucks or whatever, don't talk to me. If you can't perform, you don't get to complain.

And when you are making six or seven figures and management says, I'd like you to try this - you do it. (Even when you're not making big money, if my manager said we are moving you to this job or changing you to this position, I have choices but none of them - if I want to keep my job - include not showing up in protest). I'm not saying it may not be a flawed plan, and after you've tried it - talk to them, but until then try it. Hey, for that money I'd try it. I'd try it for less than that. And sure, I'm not an athlete. I lack the skills that got you where you are. But, yeah, that only gets you a little sympathy.

And if you are smart, you also won't trash your management or your teammates. Because the other part of this equation, is the more money you make, the more you need to step up. If you can't do it - get out. Don't try to blame everyone else. Let's face it - I make much less than these folks. But if I got in front of a bunch of cameras and trashed my manager and my co-workers - I wouldn't really expect to have a job the next day much less a promotion or more responsibility. And sure, professional sports is a different arena (sorry - couldn't help it), but at the end of the day you are asking these people to trust you to do a job. And if they can't trust you not to pull stunts every time you think there's a camera around, if they can't trust you to show up when and where you're supposed to, why should they pay you?

And hey, we all make mistakes and everyone deserves a second chance. But, get it together. Oh yeah, and if you act like an idiot in front of the cameras - don't expect the fans to love you. In fact, even if you don't act like an idiot - fan love is a crazy, fickle thing. That's just how it is. You do not get to trash the fans. These people paid - dearly - for their tickets and for the right to sit there and say pretty much whatever they want. If you want them to love you, there is a fairly good formula. You may notice - for example - that players on the Washington Capitals such as Alex Ovechkin, Jeff Halpern and Olie Kolzig are gracious even when the team loses. They share credit when they win and they don't point fingers when they lose. And people love them.