June 8th, 2012 § 2 Comments
Theory of Relativity
This time last year, we were all talking “lock out”. As owners and players squabbled over how a nine billion dollar revenue pie was going to be sliced, we fantasy football degenerates sat at the edge of our seats, wringing our clammy hands. We jumped to our feet each time Shefter or Mortensen appeared on our TV screens. All summer long they delivered the same news, “Close, but …” Slumping back in our seats, we yelled, “C’mon, get it done! Do these people know they’re messing with our fantasy season? And what? For a few dollars more? Spoiled millionaires.”
Whenever there is a labor dispute in pro sports, the prevailing public sentiment is outrage. The average working person takes one look at the numbers and decries the indecency of millionaires fighting over billions. But, hold on a minute. Isn’t it all relative?
Relatively speaking, the average American wage earner placed on a global salary scale is extremely wealthy – a relative “millionaire”. No one in this country bats an eye when a grocery worker “holds out” for better wages. But go tell a doctor in Sri Lanka that a grocery worker making 45K annually is striking for 5% more. That Sri Lankan after scratching his head at the puzzling reality that an American grocery worker makes double what he as a trained physician in Sri Lanka makes, will decry the greed of demanding more on top of what is deemed from his perspective to be a paltry salary.
It’s relative. And so it’s about perspective – a perspective that does not come easily. To see the world consistently from a place in relation to others is challenging. We generally struggle to empathize. “Not everyone is like me.” So, next time you’re tempted to shake your head at a labor dispute in pro sports, consider this: Who among us average wage earners would leave money on the table – money we believed was due us – out of consideration for the guy in Sri Lanka?