It’s only been nine minutes since I tweeted that, meaning in about 11 minutes I’ll have all of Alabama football coming after me.
So let’s lay it all out better than I could have in 140 characters. Nick Saban deserves to make a lot of money. He’s the best college football coach probably ever. The John Calipari of football in terms of pro production, but with championships. He’s turned good players into great players for years and years, and for that he should be reimbursed. Added into that, he’s probably the biggest source of income for the state of Alabama.
But at some point, we’ve gone too far with salaries for public university football employees. As much as Nick Saban deserves $11 million, does he need it? Doesn’t he have enough? What if, and hear me out, we took just half of that money, and used it on the schools in Alabama to raise their literacy and graduation rates. Or to help that huge percent of Alabamians who are in poverty? Especially the children. If there’s one thing that should always unite our country, it’s helping children.
Of course, that will never happen. Because with sports, we put these blinders on. Like they live in their own bubble, and thus the huge amount of money within sports could never possibly leave that bubble of sports. You get the same reaction when you wonder if some of the money being spent on NBA or MLB contracts could go to a better use. Those are private teams, fine. But especially with someone like Nick Saban, who’s a public employee, that money could very realistically be put elsewhere, and do a lot more for the people of the state. It’s valid at this point to note that Nick Saban’s actual base salary is $245,000 per year, and that hasn’t changed through the years. What has changed? The $6.5 million “talent fee”, which just got raised by half a million. That’s just part of the charade.
I’ll say this on my death bed and every day until then: the biggest lie any government body will ever tell you is that there’s not enough money to do something. 100 times out of 100 times, that’s a lie. During the recession 8 years ago, Alabama was one of three states to make cuts of 15% or more to their education budget (because “the money wasn’t there for school”). That money’s never been restored. We see it in Chicago, where Rahm Emmanuel closes dozens of schools for financial reasons, but was willing to put up $250 million for a George Lucas museum. We see it in Michigan, where Detroit found $250 million for the Redwings, but not enough to help fix their 25% poverty rate (59% of children in Detroit in 2012 lived in poverty). There’s always money when politicians want to find money for things they want. Don’t let them petty fog the conversation by talking about money brought in by sports teams, or how the pay raises are coming from boosters, or whatever. The choice they’re making is clear. They care more about sports teams than they do about literacy rates. Or about school systems. Or about Children. Let that sink in. They’re willing to give Nick Saban a raise, but not give a 7 year old who wants to learn the resources he needs to learn. We’ve become so numb to it that we don’t even think twice about it. Take the blinders off.