Dear Dr. Wallace:
I went to a sports memorabilia show and saw several former major league baseball players signing autographs — for a fee. They charged $25-$50 per autograph! This bothered me. Ballplayers make a lot of money, even the older ones.
My brother thinks it’s all right for former players to charge for autographs because it’s a business deal, and today’s $25 autograph might be worth $500 to $1,000 someday in the future. What are your thoughts on this subject?
— Baseball Fan, Fullerton, California
Dear Baseball Fan: I believe strongly in the free enterprise system. If a player today can earn $25 million playing baseball, basketball, football, hockey or any other sport, I’m all for it. Owners of these sports franchises pay these high wages because they sell expensive tickets, parking, food, team clothing, hats and, perhaps most importantly, huge television contracts. So if anyone is allowing player’s salaries to escalate off the charts, it’s the owners of the teams, not the players.
It doesn’t bother me a bit to see an athlete charge $25 for his or her signature, no matter how good he or she was during their playing days. Don’t forget that their time to attend these signing events is worth something, too. Finally, many athletes do lots of volunteering and charity work, such as spending time with underprivileged children, visiting children in hospitals with illnesses and raising funds for a variety of worthy causes.
Many famous singers, musicians, actors and actresses also make huge wages, and the public does not usually make too much of a fuss over this. I feel all athletes should be able to realize any opportunities that come their way — with one caveat: They are friendly, kind and earnest in their dealings with the public, especially with impressionable young people. They are truly ambassadors of their sport or respective franchises they represent. Fortunately, 99.9% of all athletes do indeed set great examples with their public interactions with young fans. Look no further than Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels baseball team to see a truly wonderful role model for young people of all ages. His sincerity, behavior and generosity of spirit transcends any amount of money he earns from his sport and endorsement opportunities. And in his case, it’s quite a lot of capital! I say more power to him and all his fellow athletes. Remember, these athletes can and do often donate a lot of t!
heir earnings to worthy causes as well.
Dear Dr. Wallace: I’m responding to the letter from a 20-year-old wife who wanted to return to college to get her degree but whose husband didn’t think it was necessary because he earned enough money to support their family of three.
Your answer was good (yes, return to college), but you forgot to point out something important. If something should happen to her husband, she would be the sole support of her daughter. It is wise for many reasons to have extra education. One never knows when or how it will come in handy.
Dear Anonymous: Your point provides an excellent addition to my answer. Thank you for taking the time to share your perspective with our readers.