Pop a Wheelie on the Zeitgeist

Simple question: why do athletes make so much money? Why does the individual that’s able to hit a golf ball the least amount of times in order to get it into 18 different holes win over $1.5 million during the Masters? Conversely, why does the man who drops his life to work with Doctors Without Borders in Syria, and saves dozens of human lives daily, make roughly minimum wage?What is it about our society that places such value on activities that have minimal global impact, such as golf, basketball, football, and other sports, while we oftentimes turn a blind eye to the people and activities that unite humanity and propel us forward? The only answer I can come up with is the pure money that lies in entertainment. I want to emphasize the fact that I’m not looking to degrade athletes and their accomplishments. People love watching sports like golf, for example. It’s both a hobby and a lifestyle for many. And therefore, people will watch the Masters without interruption for days. Fans will also often engage in online activity related to the Masters. Then in turn, the networks that own and broadcast the Masters will possess the funds to award the winner upwards of a million dollars. Let’s acknowledge how crazy that is — the act of swinging a club can generate that much money for an individual, something that is completely normalized, but I digress.

Now let me ask you: what if we put all of that dollar generating energy that surrounds the American sport industry into meaningful organizations? What if it excited us that a man was saving lives by handing out malaria nets? What if we were entertained and elated when families are rescued from a malevolent dictator, or when a baby born into poverty is given the medical attention it needs to remain healthy? What if? If we could simply shift our penchant for athleticism (and other trivial activities) to a real demand for positive global efforts, then an industry, just like golf, just like baseball, just like movies, could be catalyzed so that those individuals who are doing the most important work are rightly rewarded.

If we could collectively move toward such a paradigm shift, and create such an industry, maybe the kid in the Peace Corps who dedicated himself to improving lives and enacting change would have the million dollar contract. And maybe, just maybe, the masses would follow suit and change the world themselves.