Scratch that football off the Christmas list for your son.
Instead, go out and buy him a new glove and bat.
Make no mistake about it. That’s the prudent move if you’re trying to steer your future baller to a sport.
If you aren’t sure, check out the contract Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton agreed to on Monday: a record-setting 13-year, $325 million deal.
All guaranteed. Yep, Stanton, who is 25 and half-black, will get every thin dime.
The business of baseball is ridiculously profitable. The sport is healthy and has plenty of money to spend.
Last year, Robinson Cano left NYC to join the Seattle Mariners. No one thought Cano would leave the Yankees for the Northwest. But the Mariners spent cash the way the Yankees have, giving Cano an eye-popping 10-year, $240 million deal.
At the time, it tied the third-largest deal in sports history. Not baseball history, but professional sports history. Yes, including the NFL, NBA and NHL. Heck, even those money-rich soccer leagues in Europe.
In fact, baseball owns 21 of the top 22 biggest contracts in the history of sports. Only Floyd Mayweather’s two-year, $180-million deal with Showtime ranks on that list at 12.
That should be enough incentive to get your son signed up for Little League this spring. There are plenty of other jobs in baseball at the minor league level, too.
Somehow, we’ve lost our way in baseball. African Americans make up just 7.8 percent of players in MLB in 2014.
The biggest missed opportunity is in college. There are plenty of scholarships to play baseball. In the African-American community, fewer kids are playing baseball at a higher level. Hence, even historically Black colleges have given the scholarships to white and Hispanic kids to play baseball for their teams. Crazy.
We get it. Basketball is easier. All a kid needs is a ball, a hoop and all day at the park. But there are only 400 jobs in the NBA and only 30 players get a guaranteed deal each year.
The Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant’s 2004 deal for $136.4 million is the first basketball contract on this list, ranking only 34th.
Yes, there are more gigs in the NFL—more than 1,600 jobs compared to about 800 in MLB.
There are two big differences, though. The average career is just 3.5 years in the NFL. And the rise in brain trauma injuries emphasizes the long-lasting dangers of football. Additionally, most NFL contracts are not guaranteed.
The Detroit Lions’ Calvin Johnson is the first NFL player on the list. His $132-million pact signed in 2012 ranks 37th—but only $53 million of it was guaranteed.
But the health concern in the football is serious business. Many former players have talked about all their health problems after they left the sport, including Hall Of Fame-bound quarterback Brett Favre.
Favre holds the NFL record for consecutive games played at 297. In the process, he also was sacked a record 525 times in his 20-year career.
A year ago, Favre said he didn’t know if he would allow his son to play football, if he had one.
According to ESPN’s “Outside The Lines,” there’s been a 9.5 percent drop in Pop Warner football participation from 2000-2012.
It’s not too late to get that glove for your boy and start playing catch as soon as the weather breaks. In the meantime, you guys can hit the batting cage.
Baseball isn’t just fun. It’s pays, too. Boy, does it.
Rob Parker is a Detroit-based sports columnist who was the first black sports columnist at the Detroit Free Press and Newsday in NYC. Parker also co-hosted a radio show “Parker and The Man” for a decade and worked for ESPN for eight years.