As sporting stars strike it rich, professionals are no longer tradesmen
There was a day, not so long ago, when the ethos of sport was all about being an amateur – that is, not getting paid for winning your race, or whatever it was that you were especially good at. Well, that’s how I saw it as I was growing up in South Africa in the fifties and sixties.
There were a few professionals – usually cricketers or golfers – but they were rather snootily regarded as being little more than mere tradesmen, who should kindly use the back door to the clubhouse, thank you very much!
And the only cricket pros we knew of were temporary residents from England, usually hired by private schools to coach their pupils for off-season work. Among them, I recall, was the legendary spinner Fred Titmus. Our own cricketers in those days were still all amateurs despite being able to compete with the best in the world, although the likes of batting supremo Graeme Pollock must have made a crispy mint advertising Castle Lager as I recall seeing billboards splattered around the countryside depicting him enjoying a glass of the golden nectar.
We did of course have golf pros even then – men like Bobby Locke and Gary Player, who were also among the best in the world. Locke allegedly picked up the tidy sum of £100 for winning the Open Championship for the fourth time in 1957. We’re talking about what is now commonly regarded as the biggest golf title on the planet.
But oh, how things have changed! Tiger Woods is now the richest sportsman in the world worth an estimated £538 million, the equivalent of around a billion dollars. We know this because, in our voyeuristic world where if we can’t aspire to wealth ourselves, we can ogle through the window provided by an intrusive media at those who have struck it rich thanks to the Sunday Times, who have now published the sporting version of their regular ‘rich list’.
But oh, the price of fame and fortune! Tiger has hit a rough patch with a £60 million divorce accompanied by a drop in sponsorship income, and has since struggled to keep to the straight and narrow of the fairways.
Significantly for those watching out for sexist traits in our politically-correct culture, the cost of his adultery exceeds the value of the world’s richest sportswoman, Russian beauty Maria Sharapova, the tennis-playing genius who has augmented her earnings with lucrative fashion deals and is reputedly worth £55 million.
David Beckham is the richest sportsman in Britain and Ireland with an estimated fortune of £160m, and behind him in second spot is former rugby union player Paul Caddick, who now runs a property and construction company, is chairman of rugby league club Leeds Rhinos and apparently lives on our patch in Monk Fryston.
Clearly sport has become big business and we can’t escape that fact, but sadly many of those who reap its rewards have no idea how to handle it. Yet the most famous person who ever lived said that life was not about the abundance of one’s possessions!
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Weather for Selby
Thursday 23 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 11 C
Wind Speed: 22 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 6 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 26 mph
Wind direction: North east