Friday, January 28, 2011

Gil Meche Sets a Standard: So How Much Are YOU Worth?

Here is the headline from the New York Times:  Pitcher Spurns $12 Million to Keep Self-Respect

Forgive me for not being too impressed!  I mean, I think it's great and all that this baseball player felt like he was getting paid too much for sitting on the bench ($12 million dollars to be exact!), but the guy has already made $40 million and he is only 32 years old!  I realize that it is not his fault that baseball players get paid so much money.  It is, however, somewhat refreshing to hear a sports figure realize that something is a bit out of kilter with how much money professional athletes make.  But let's assume that his team was the best in the league and he was playing every game.  Are we to agree that now he deserves $12 million this year to throw a ball??

Yes, I know that baseball is our national pastime and team sports are a way for society to join together and so on and so forth!  Hooeey!  This really does get to the core of the problem.  Our society has put their money where their mouth is, along with their hearts and focus of attention.  Professional athletes can get paid that much because people attend the games, watch television and buy the merchandise.  Could this money be spent more wisely?  I think so!

I have worked in the field of music therapy for over ten years now and love what I do.  I have been lucky enough to work in a variety of settings including schools, hospitals and privately with clients in their homes.  I see teachers, nurses, and people with disabilities dedicating their lives to others with little fanfare and little physical reward.  I think that Mr. Meche's action can be a lesson to us as Americans about what we value in life.  Gil Meche may have realized that he can't be part of the current system anymore and retain his integrity.  Can our society reevaluate what is important and start following through?  Perhaps one less trip to a professional sporting event or one less hour in front of the TV watching a game could translate into time at your child's school or donating to its PTA.  Can we seize the moment individually in order to cause the societal shift that would make us a better country or will there just be another player that steps into the $12 million bench seat to take Mr. Meche's place?

A free enterprise economy often does not reflect what we say is important.  Or does it?  Haven't we collectively given power, money, fame and influence to movie stars, athletes, politicians, lawyers, and even the founders of Facebook and Apple?  The theory of supply and demand may dictate that the small numbers of people in these professions receive more money per person.  I think these are wonderful professions, but the field of music therapy is also very small in comparison to the overall population, and society has not chosen us to be rich and famous.

I hope that each of us can reevaluate our own commitment and worth to our profession and workplace.  Are you also earning your "paygrade" as a father, mother or spouse?  Are you sitting on the bench or are you in the game??!

The full NYT story is here:

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