An unnamed Newcastle Jets player has returned a positive test for COVID-19, just days after the A-League was shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.
As we keep hearing from sports administrators of late, big sport is big business. Dare I say it, so is little sport with many weekend clubs relying on attendances, bar sales and lunches to save their bottom line.
Australia loves sport more than most countries and to many our modern culture is defined on the efforts of our sporting stars on the biggest stages – domestically and around the world.
Yet it’s probably one of our other cultural characteristics of being a conservative nation (no political reference) that makes the recent public discussion of how much money our sports stars deserve an awkward one.
Many of us agree that as we idolise our stars and they provide entertainment to us they should be justly rewarded. However, it’s the numbers that make us all a bit squeamish.
The list of sports stars chasing more is endless. There is the recent debate between the AFL and AFL Players Association about identifying a percentage of the game’s revenue as adequate remuneration for their players.
In previous years there has been movement of rugby league players crossing to union or union players moving to Europe or Japan for some extra Euros or Yen. Often overseas year-end golf tournaments that clash with the Australian tour regularly see many Aussies choosing to play the richer event abroad than playing for peanuts locally.
Finally, most recently, the part disclosure of a potential Harry Kewell contract taking a percentage of gate revenue above the expected average attendance has left many sports fans a little perplexed on when these sporting icons think enough is enough.
Of course we would want a pay rise if we could get it and of course sports stars are entitled to chase the best salary they can, however the tried and tested argument of John Citizen would change jobs for an extra ten or twenty thousand is not relevant in this case. Water cooler talk at many workplaces this week has left many of us wondering if our idols are not being a little too hungry.
Stars might be chasing some extra money for their holiday home or to send their children to private school, the vast majority of the people that allow them to get that wage are wondering if they can make that months mortgage payment or if they can even afford to keep their Foxtel subscription that helps pay these sporting gods.
The problem is they are already very well remunerated and sure their talent has to be admired and indeed rewarded, just not to levels that sit out of kilter with the Australian ethos of a fair go.
Just because the US, UK and European sports stars earn exorbitant salaries there is no reason that Australia has to follow suit.
After all, as a sports lover who didn’t quite have the talent to play sport professionally – who wouldn’t be happy to be playing full-time sport and be paid their current salary today?