Professional Athletes

September 1, 1971

Report Outline
Mood of Discontent Among Pro Athletes
Professional Sports' Rise to Affluence
Complaints About Sports' Labor Relations
Special Focus

Mood of Discontent Among Pro Athletes

Millions of american men harbor the Walter Mittyesque wish of becoming a professional athlete. Fame, fortune and a life of ease would be theirs, they imagine, if only they possessed the talent to be major-leaguers. Such dreams find nourishment in reports that Lew Alcindor of the Milwaukee Bucks earns $250,000 a year; in television commercials starring Carl Yastrzemski of the Boston Red Sox or Hank Aaron of the Atlanta Braves; in the phenomenal success of the drive-in food chain started by Gino Marchetti, former defensive end of the Baltimore Colts. To the dedicated armchair athlete, the athlete on the field lives in the best of all possible worlds.

The view from the playing field is markedly different. Numerous athletes assert that their sport—be it baseball, football, hockey, or whatever—involves at least as much drudgery as excitement. The $100,000-plus salaries paid to such superstars as Willie Mays and Wilt Chamberlain are very much the exception. Furthermore, all athletes must live with the unsettling knowledge that age will cut short their careers if injuries do not. They are haunted also by fear of being traded from a desirable to an undesirable team, of being demoted to the minor leagues or, worst of all, being released outright before qualifying for a major-league pension.

Black athletes complain that racism is as much of a problem in professional sports as in other walks of life. The Negro player, it is charged, must be more than equal in ability to his white counterpart to win a place on a major-league roster. It is asserted also that unwritten quotas restrict the number of blacks on professional teams and that certain playing positions are virtually reserved for whites. And few blacks find coaching or managerial jobs once their playing days are over.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
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Jan. 29, 2010  Professional Football Updated
Apr. 03, 2009  Extreme Sports
Jul. 23, 2004  Sports and Drugs Updated
Sep. 25, 1998  The Future of Baseball
Feb. 10, 1995  The Business of Sports
Apr. 22, 1994  Soccer in America
Jul. 26, 1991  Athletes and Drugs
Feb. 09, 1990  Free Agency: Pro Sports' Big Challenge
Apr. 08, 1988  High Stakes of Sports Economics
Jan. 27, 1984  Advances in Athletic Training
May 21, 1982  Soccer in America
Jun. 28, 1974  Sports Business
Sep. 01, 1971  Professional Athletes
Jun. 12, 1963  Deaths and Injuries in Sports
Jul. 27, 1951  Monopoly Controls in Organized Sport
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Equal Employment Opportunity & Discrimination
General Employment and Labor
Sports and Recreation