Saturday, 14 January 2012

The Secrecy of Player Salaries

The Winnipeg Free Press released a list of what seven starting Quarterbacks (the one team missing was Winnipeg because all their QBs are headed for free agency). Anthony Calvillo and Ricky Ray, not surprisingly, top the list at approximately $400,000 per season.

I use the word "approximately" because it is not known what the exact amounts are because the league does not release that information.

I should stay that way.

I have never understood the obsession some fans have with knowing what players make. It is, quiet frankly, no one's business what anybody makes, and that doesn't change because the person is a professional athlete. You wouldn't stop a stranger on the street and ask them what their annual income is, so I don't understand why fans feel like it is their right to know what a player makes.

Complaints about the lack of transparency when it comes to certain aspects of the league – like contract length or the negotiation list – I understand. I don't need to know what a player makes, but it would be nice to know how long they signed for. Waiting for the league to release a free agent list is silly, especially when the list includes retired players or players playing in the NFL. Knowing when a player is about to hit the open market is not a necessity, but it also isn't so invasive that it needs to be kept private.

I've also heard the reason for the neg list not being made public – it's a fluid list, with names going on and off all the time – but it's not like names don't get leaked (Tahj Boyd, Geno Smith and Kellen Moore are on the Ti-Cast neg list; Robert Griffin III is on Calgary's), so there seems to be no harm in releasing each teams' full list.

But demanding to know what a player makes is where I personally draw the line. I just don't think anyone deserves or needs to know what someone else is making. Sure, it would make for interesting water-cooler talk and it would allow fans to play fantasy GM and discuss how to fit players under the salary cap. But the need to know is trumped by the fact that these players deserve some privacy.

There are ways the league could, and should, be less secretive; divulging player salaries to the public is a step the league does not need to take.

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