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ON YOUR MARKS: Will work for food: The plight of the pro-Athlete

By Adam Marks

Section: Arts

February 11, 2005

Being that were in college, we students are never really sure where our next meal is coming from. That statement should actually be amended;

personally, I always know where my next meal is coming from, because I am beyond anal-retentive and plan these things in advance. Most of us are broke, and the ones that arent probably have better things to spend their money on than food.

If you live in a residence hall without a kitchen, you are forced to spend up to $2,100 dollars per semester for a meal plan which entitles a student to eat at Usdan, Sherman, or even Java City. If you live in a suite with a kitchen, you are no doubt familiar with microwavable Easy Mac. Regardless of where you live, you probably believe the diet of a college student is not one that is often the subject of envy. That belief, however, is incorrect;

the quality and quantity of our food apparently trumps that of a professional athlete and his family.

Next time you head over to the dining hall to enjoy a delicious Aramark-prepared meal, think of Ty Law, the New England Patriots cornerback. This past offseason, Law tried to negotiate a contract extension with his team. Although he still had two years and $17 million remaining on his previous contract (which paid him a mere $51 million over seven years with a $14.2 million signing bonus), Law attempted to extend the contract to ensure he would play the balance of his career with the only team he has ever played for.

When the negotiations turned ugly and led to verbal sparring between Law and Coach Bill Belichick, Law put forth a comment which will live in infamy. Everyone knows this is business, but youre also talking peoples livelihood. This is how I earn my living, how I feed my family. While we can all sympathize with need to put food on the table and a roof over ones head, I would imagine the $51 million on Laws current contract would be sufficient. As amazing as it may seem, Law is not alone with his gripe.

Latrell Sprewell of the Minnesota Timberwolves must have not been paying attention to the fact that Laws negotiation tactics did not earn him a contract extension when he said I told you I needed to feed my family. They offered me 3 years at $21 million. Thats not going to cut it. And Im not going to sit here and continue to give my children food while this front office takes money out of my pocket. If [owner Glen] Taylor wants to see my family fed, he better cough up some money. Otherwise, youre going to see these kids in one of those Sally Struthers commercials soon. Certainly no one likes a pay cut, and since Latrell is earning $14.6 million this year, a mere $7 million a year for the next three years is simply insulting.

The mere notion, however, that Latrell could not feed his family on that salary, or that he prioritizes some other lifestyle before feeding his children, is simply laughable. I dont know how many children Latrell has, and many players in the NBA have innumerable illegitimate kids, but he must have a mind-boggling addiction to procreation to be at a point where he is unable to feed his family for $7 million a year. If I make that much money over the course of my lifetime I think both my family and myself will be able to live and eat pretty comfortably.

All this complaining made me think;

just how much food could one purchase for the $14.6 million which Latrell does not feel is enough to feed his family. This year at Brandeis, the most expensive meal plan option is the 21-meal a week plan, costing $2,047 per semester, or $4,094 for the academic year. The current enrollment statistics at Brandeis indicate that we have 3,051 undergraduates.

If so, if every one of those undergraduates at Brandeis wanted the most expensive meal plan for the year, the total cost would be $12,490,794. Latrell Sprewell could purchase 21 meals per week for every Brandeis undergraduate and still have over $4 million left to feed his own family. If it were Latrells responsibility to feed all of Brandeis, then maybe he would be able to complain about a mere $7 million, but last time I looked, Sprewell is not cutting checks to Aramark for our food.

The only people who dont realize that professional athletes are overpaid are the athletes themselves. While there are a handful that comprehend their extraordinary wealth, the vast majority, Law and Sprewell included, feel that offers of only $7 million or so are insulting.

So next time you and your friends all go to Usdan or Sherman or wherever it is you eat, be grateful that your meal plan has been paid for. Because if you are the son or daughter of a professional athlete, they might not be able to reach into their overwhelmingly large cash heap and scrounge up that $4,000. And remember, if you see Latrell Sprewell or Ty Law begging for a little extra cash on the street, give them a dollar or two, you wouldnt want to see their kids on a Sally Struthers commercial.

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