There was once a time in sports fandom – a simpler time, some would say – where fans didn’t know what every player earned. They watched the games, followed their stats, and rooted for the guys they liked best. This is not so much the case anymore, especially when it comes to “serious” sports fans.
Today, every player is viewed through the lens of his contract, which is not entirely unjustified. The NHL is a league with a salary cap, which means that overpaying one guy limits you from being able to pay someone else more money, meaning you end up with less talented fill-in guys. That makes your team worse, so…overpayments bad, underpayments good. Pretty simple.
But man, has it become blinding, to the point where fans take players earnings personally, and wind up comparing guys based on relative value instead of true contribution.
They’ll boo Scott Gomez when they feel they aren’t getting good bang for their buck, they’ll mock Rick DiPietro mercilessly, and they’ll even bemoan the stats of a guy like Brad Richards (in fairness, DiPietro was generally bad, but you get the point). This is not what We, the collective We as fans and part of this organization, paid you to do, Brad. Along the same vein, there are contract superstars. Mediocre output on a low salary? Value!
The obsession with that much-vaunted word is messing with perception to where it doesn’t accurately reflect reality.
Here’s the thing: a guy under-performing on his contract is not necessarily less valuable than somebody over-performing theirs. It’s okay to occasionally skirt contribution-to-salary ratio in favor of just the first word. All things are equal on the ice. Read the rest of this entry »