Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Carpe Per Diem

In this most incendiary of election years, one question being intentionally ignored by both sides of the political aisle is: How can today's professional athlete afford to nourish himself/herself on road trips? Elected officials play politics while the enfranchised of America get dissed. Where are the people's candidates like Steve Forbes?

Thankfully, benevolent team owners voluntarily assist their players with meal money (after each union voluntarily threatened to voluntarily strike). Here's the per diem amount during road trips for players in different leagues, according to the Dallas Morning News:

NBA: $96 (minimum annual salary - $366,000)

NHL: $85 (minimum annual salary - $185,000)

NFL: $80 (minimum annual salary - $230,000)

MLB: $77.50 (minimum annual salary - $300,000)

MLS: $41 (ironically, this matches the league's gross ticket sales from the 2003 MLS season)

SWINE (Sumo Wrestlers In Need of Employment): $1,400

...it's possible I may have made that last one up.

What's amazing for most of these players is that at least one meal a day and often two are provided in the clubhouse/locker room! They might toss in $30 for visiting clubhouse dues, but that still leaves multimillionaires with $45 a day for one meal. Shameless.

I know what some of you are thinking. You're wondering about my per diem when I broadcast tournaments for The Golf Channel. Well, if you must know, I get $45 per day. And while TGC does provide two meals a day at the golf course for the crew and while I'm not required to chip in clubhouse dues like the athletes and while I could pocket every nickel of that and live off twizzlers and beef jerky absconded from the television compound, there's a big difference. The difference is that what happens in my situation is none of your business while what happens with athletes is yet another example of how out of touch they've become with those of us who cheer them on. How do they sleep at night?

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