Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Shake Your Moneymaker

There have been a series of predictably snarky comments, both on the crystal box and in the chip wrappers, about the amount of money cricketers will earn from the IPL.

For example, Richard Williams in the Grauniad today suggests that the players should wear their salaries, rather than their names, on their back and there have been any number of other commentators querying whether 'so and so' is really worth a couple of hundred thousand pounds for such minimal effort.

Sorry to get all Marxist about it. but the only 'asset' most individuals have to sell is his or her labour, and it's really up to them as to how much he can sell that labour for. If someone is has got pockets deep enough to pay Dhoni, Hayden, Ponting and Co half a million each for a couple of months work, then so be it. In other words, something is 'worth' the amount someone is prepared to pay for it.

Journalists like Williams are in a similar game as the cricketers - effectively 'public entertainment'. Everything he, like Dhoni and Co, does is there for instant public consumption and analysis. One crucial difference is that he has editors and fact checkers to deal with his mistakes - cricketers stand and fall on their performance out in the middle.

The same applies in football, where there's no end of comment about the astronomical salaries paid out to Premiership footballers. 'Obscene' was the word used by a government minister a few months ago to describe the £130K John Terry trousers each week. If New Labour ministers do want to get hot under the collar about astronomical wages, why not start with some of the ludicrous sums paid out in the City - and, more importantly, the distinctly small percentage of said sums that finds its way to the Treasury coffers. And if they want to start bandying emotive words like 'obscene' around in terms of wages, why not start looking at how much contract cleaners in hospitals get paid...

Of course, there are always some fuckwit who gives justification to the whole 'overpaid sportsmen' angle - ''I wouldn't get out of bed for 55 grand a week'' Ashley Cole for example, and obviously there's a whole arguement to be had about the importance of 'role models' amongst those taking home more in a week than the average fan earns in five years. But the bottom line remains that if Abramovich and Co are prepared to pay 'obscene' sums, who are we to start calling for the return of the 'serfdom' days of the maximum wage?

As Tony correctly pointed out here

That will be one of the attractions of the T20. Will players deliver? The cricket, from a purist's perspective, will mostly be crap, but big money has cranked up the pressure. Who will crack first?

The one big complaint about the Packer circus was that there was a distinct lack of real excitement surrounding a lot of the games. Sure, you could see Dennis Lillee trying to decapitate Clive Lloyd on a regular basis, but beyond that most of the games were virtually meaningless.

Packer paid his players enough money to make them comfortable without going totally OTT about the whole thing. The IPL take it a stage further, but you can be sure that all the players will have had the 'new contract' carrot dangled in front of them before a ball is bowled. Plus if you're playing in front of a full house, and know that there's a TV audience of billions watching your every move, who's not going to be motivated?

As for who I'm supporting - well Mumbai is where these guys are based - and as they are good enough to publish the occasional screed that I send them, I reckon it's only fair that I give their side a shout.


Anonymous said...

Sorry to be all Marxist? Whut? How is people freely and willing paying the market value for a service Marxist?

Tony said...

Mumbai?!? Hacks and theatre-goers. They've never won anything! Theirs is a long history of failure.

Go the Kolkata Kats.

Mark said...

The 'Marxist' reference was in relation to the 'selling your labour' comment.

King Cricket said...

Packer said that cricket was the easiest sport in the world to take over, because nobody ever thought to pay the players what they were worth.

If someone's willing to pay it, then that's the price. The money's got to come from somewhere after all.

Some jobs are just better paid than others. It's nowt to do with effort or some quixotic notion of worth.

I'm just agreeing with you here. Thanks for giving me a window to use the word 'quixotic' for the first time ever.

Mark said...

My pleasure KC!

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