What do you value?

It’s the end of the college football season, and that means it’s time for the annual dance known as coaching changes.

I keep reading comments from fans and media pointing out how the coaches have to do what’s best for their families and make sure they’re getting paid fairly. Leaving aside the question of how much money is fair for anyone to make–how much more care does a family need if you’re already making over 2 million dollars a year?

Sure Scott Frost, Willie Taggart and all of the other coaches in the States want to take care of their families. Sure they have places they love. Places where they have extended family. Lots of us do. But let’s not pretend that going after a multi-million dollar paycheck has anything to do with taking care of their families. They can take care of them just fine for 100K. Luxuriously for 500K.

“But their families are from there!”

A lot of people live in places they don’t have extended family because of their jobs. Professors. Traveling nurses. Photographers. Many professions require being where the work is. Coaching is one of those professions.

If they wanted to take care of their families, maybe they should have just stayed at home in the first place! Or maybe they should have selected a profession that doesn’t require them to travel.

What is teaching young men to play a game at an elite level really worth? Does it have more value than, say, educating young adults to become doctors or architects? Is it worth more than the nurse who takes care of your sick baby in the NICU? More than the paramedic who gets you to the hospital alive?

The average yearly wage for a full professor at the University of Oregon is around $115,000. The Athletic Director makes around 700,000.  The new head coach of the football team makes around 2.5 million a year. As an assistant coach he made $717K. Many of the coaches and assistant coaches are making more money  than the man who runs the entire athletic program. Certainly more than the athletes who are putting their bodies on the line in order to play.

In a society where we prove what we value by throwing money at it,  we may wish to reconsider our priorities. What are the things we really value?

Paying for healthcare for everyone who needs it doesn’t seem to be valued by all of us. Hint: everyone needs it, so why isn’t it valued more?

Taking care of the veterans who defend out country? We love to say we love our veterans, but not if it means providing money for the care and housing they require after they leave active service.

Making sure the teachers working with our children make enough money to take care of their own families?

Making sure our nation’s infrastructure is in good repair?

Everyone would probably say all of those things are important, and they are all wildly underfunded. So why don’t we put our money where are mouths are? Why are we so willing to pay a college coach $5 million a year, or an actor $30 million for a movie, but not pay a teacher enough money to support her family? Why will we pay a corporate executive $10 million, but a nurse only $70,000?

Am I saying that sports and other forms of entertainment are without value? Absolutely not. We need authors, artists, athletes, actors and all of the people who keep our minds engaged. The people who make us laugh. The ones who make us cheer. They are part of what makes life so much fun.

What we need to do, though, is make sure that we balance the value of entertainment and entertainers with the value of the people who really run things around here. Oh, not the politicians and bosses–the plumbers, electricians and carpenters. The computer people. The farmers. The doctors and nurses. The pilots. The truck drivers.  The people who feed us, take care of us when we’re sick and make sure we are warm and comfortable. The people who make things.

We all have a role to play in the world, but we’ve lost sight of what is really valuable.

It’s something we all need to start thinking more about.