By Eric Schmidt

I stumbled across a posting this afternoon from the first week of May from a financial advice site, getrichslowly.com. The article struck a chord with me as the author, Robert Brokamp, is obviously a Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan, or at least grew up watching the Buccaneers in the same era as I did. Mr. Brokamp is a Certified Financial Planner and penned an article on whether or not professional sports is a waste of time, money and energy. While I do agree with some of his points, overall, I have to disagree with the premise of his column. And yes, Mr. Brokamp, I remember that Vinny Testaverde was originally a Buccaneer player. Do you remember the local orange colored billboards WYNF put up around town when Vinny revealed he was color blind after throwing all those interceptions? I digress.

Mr. Brokamp opens his column with an explanation of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers DT Warren Sapp and how he recently had to file bankruptcy. Hundreds of NFL players have to. They spend money and practice irresponsible behavior, thinking that the large paychecks are going to keep coming but professional athletes in all reality experience a very short life span. The author questions how Warren Sapp could have been paid a reported $60 million in his career. Simply, the market bears it. The NFL is currently a $9 billion dollar a year market, if it was worth $4.5 million, salaries would be proportionately lower. I don’t begrudge players and their salaries. If players squander their money away, so be it.

Mr. Brokamp references five points to support his assertion. I have listed them below with my response.

1. We should be exercising instead of sitting on our butts and watching other people sweat.

Oh, stop right there. Was this article written off a press release from the White House and the Let’s Move movement? Frankly, I am sick and tired of being force fed by the media on what we should and should not be eating. When I graduated high school, I was 6′ 1″ 180 pounds. I am currently 6′ 1″ 187 pounds, 27 years later. During football season, I watch close to 35 hours of games a week. Professional sports are not contributing to the so-called national obesity crisis, eating habits are. Take personal responsibility for what you are ingesting into your body.

2. Many professional athletes are horrible with money.

I addressed this above in regards to Warren Sapp. Professional athletes are adults. What they do with their money when they are off the field living their own lives is of no concern to me. It does not deter me from watching.

3. Sports can bring out the worst in people.

This is a point I agree with the author entirely on. Mr Brokamp references an experience he had when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers visited FedEx Field to take on the Washington Redskins. Ironically, the worst experience I ever had at Raymond James Stadium involved the Washington Redskins in a playoff game. With the technological explosion of HD televisions, surround sound and cable packages, more people are choosing to remain at home and watch from their couch. The devolution of societal behavior however is not limited to just sporting events, but the insertion of alcohol at these events doesn’t help issues.

4. It’s silly to care so much.

I disagree with this rationale. Perhaps just like Mr. Brokamp, I started following the Buccaneers in 1976. It was painful football to watch. The 1979 season was a special moment, albeit fleeting. The Buccaneers went into a coma, producing some of the worst football in the 1980′s and early 1990′s the NFL has ever seen. When the Buccaneers won the Super Bowl under Jon Gruden, it’s a moment I’ll never forget the rest of my life. I watched the game at my parent’s house with my father. The first professional football game I ever attended was at the original Tampa Stadium with my father as the Buccaneers took on Joe Montana and the San Francisco 49ers. Professional sports are an unconditional release for fans of the game. I know that I become depressed after the end of the Super Bowl each season because the offseason for the NFL is so long and millions other feel the same way. My passion is for the sport, not just one particular team.

5. Is one season really that different from last season?

Without a doubt. The author scribes that there really aren’t that many unique plays each season. Every year, there are plays in every professional sport which haven’t been made before. The NFL is a great example of one season being different from the next simply because of the rotation of the teams in the mix for possible Super Bowl consideration. Teams are no longer dominant as they were in the 1960′s and 1970″s. Repeating a championship is very difficult with salary cap and free agency issues. There is almost a 50% turnover in teams participating in post-season play year-to-year in the NFL. Who would have thought, heading into the 2011 NFL season that the San Francisco 49ers would finish the season 14-2 last season?

Rooting for sports teams come with serious risks. Players you root for can and will likely let you down at some point. Teams will underachieve. There can be years of suffering while you follow your favorite team. However, the start of each new season brings hope, just as Winter turns into Spring. In the end, it’s just a game. No one needs to go all Robert De Niro in The Fan, accept the year for what it was and wait for next season.

For all the bad publicity that a small percentage of professional athletes receive, there are far more players which really do make an impact on children and their local communities while going on to live very successful and productive lives even when they are done playing sports. These players rarely receive the publicity that they deserve.

Mr. Brokamp, if you are still a Buccaneers fan, the fans have weathered bigger storms than what the team is undertaking now. There are some strong pieces in place and look for some major improvement in 2012. Just don’t lose any sleep at 3 a.m. as your article suggested you endured in the past, playoff success is a few years away.

I’d like to give a shoutout to Pat Yasinskas at ESPN which covers the NFC South. Mr. Yasinskas has linked several of my articles from thepigskinreport.com  and I would never have read this article by Mr. Brokamp if he hadn’t linked it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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