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The Envy of Achievement

By Joseph Kellard

Last month, the Canadian Football League’s Grey Cup, an equivalent of the NFL’s Super Bowl, was won by the Toronto Argonauts, the team with controversial quarterback Doug Flutie. The controversies rest on his exceptional salary and athleticism, and signify how corrupt social-political ideas are increasingly creeping into sports. The CFL has a rule that prohibits each team from spending over $2.5 million a year on the collective salaries of athletes and coaches. This season, the league’s average athlete received $45,000; none is permitted a base salary over $150,000. Doug Flutie, however, who was chosen the CFL’s top player for a record sixth time and named the outstanding player in the Grey Cup game, was an exception. Since his guaranteed two-year contract with the Argonauts was signed in 1996, his yearly salary is approximately $1-million. According to the Glob and Mail, Canada’s most popular newspaper, a movement exists to ensure that Mr. Flutie either is not under contract to the Argos in 1998 or is signed to a new deal that would be more in line with what other CFL players earn. As one CFL general manager said, "We just can't sit back and allow one player to run roughshod over a whole league. If Doug agrees to be paid like others, then you couldn't rightfully argue that he shouldn't be back." However, others more explicitly invoke the egalitarian ideology underlying the salary cap to call for banishing Doug Flutie from the league because of his wealth of athleticism. "To stabilize the league, we need equal footing," said Fred Wagman, president of another CFL team. "And to bring that about, we have to end the marquee-player concept." Mr. Flutie, he said, is "clearly at a different level than others in the CFL, not only in terms of salary but also on the field. If you bring about equal footing, you would stop the 40-3 blowouts that were occurring this season. Games would be close again. No one team would dominate. And players would know they have an equal chance of winning every game." Never mind that this year the Argonauts lost three games, they have a great athlete who undermines what some now feel is the alleged highest goal of sports: each team’s "equal chance of winning every game." However, the only "equal footing" that should exists when adults choose to contest each other in the same league, is that they both begin their contests with no points. Thereafter, whatever points are or aren’t achieved is entirely just. With the goal of "equalizing" purchasing ability, the salary cap embodies the welfare-socialist regulations of a free market, in that it institutes the egalitarian injustice of crippling the wealthier owner’s earned or inherited purchasing ability, to the level of owners with less ability to purchase quality teams. With this precedent established, and when closer scores in contests are held as more important than athletes receiving what they’re able to justly earn, then great athletes must be crippled or banished so that their comparatively less-able peers have an "equal" chance of winning. If great athletes are banished, and their successors in ability acquire their former status, they too will eventually have to be banished, until there is "equality" between all teams--i.e., teams comprised of mediocrities. The essence of this egalitarian illogic is the worship of zeros. It regards the unequal athletic ability of Doug Flutie, the unequal beauty of Cindy Crawford, and the unequal intelligence of Bill Gates as unjust and precedent for being crippled to the level of people with lesser or no athleticism, beauty or intellect. But in athletics, as life in general ought to be, ones receive only what their abilities and work achieve. If the best team in a league is beating or beats the worst team, this is never held as "unfair." Never must the best team, which already has "excess" wins, be forced to redistribute their points or victory to the worst team that is "in need" of a win, as the more able in life are often forced to give certain achievements of theirs to "the needy." As with any team that is defeated honestly, despite their abilities, hard work and aspirations, the rules intransigently demand that they accept their defeat. There can be no appeals to require the victors to relinquish what they’ve justly achieved. On its competitive grounds, athletics still uphold justice, and should be a model for the corrupt social-political injustices pervading the world--not be a reflection of it.

--(C) 1997 OSG November 30, 1997

The Envy of Achievement

By Joseph Kellard

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All material copyright © 1997 by Axiom 3. All rights reserved.