In professional sports, contracts are the basis in which teams are held together. Whether it is players or coaches, everyone is held under a contract that keeps them on the team. When contracts are up, players have the option to switch teams and make more money. And conversely, if a player’s contract is up teams can offer them less money based on their performance.
In my Poly-Sci class, contracts are something that have been spoken about at great length. There are many theories behind social contracts and contracts in general. In professional sports, Hobbes’s theory about contracts most perfectly mirrors the way players act. In his book, Leviathan, Hobbes states his theory about people in the state of nature. Hobbes believes that people are inherently selfish and will look out for themselves and their best interests before taking into account what is best for the group as a collective whole. This theory describes almost every professional athlete.
When a professional athlete feels that he is being underpaid, he will go through what is known as a “holdout”. A holdout is when a player sits out and refuses to play or participate in team activities until his contract is renegotiated. Most of the time it’s even the best player on the team who refuses to play.
Now doesn’t that seem very Hobbes to you? What kind of “team-player” refuses to play for his team because he wants more money? That kind of player is someone who cares solely about himself. What about the 55 other teammates and countless coaches who work day in and day out for him and the team? Professional athletics have become more about the paycheck and less about the actual sport. Players want big time money or else they’ll refuse to play.
The problem with the Hobbesian standard that has been set by professional teams is that teams continue to play by it. When a player holds out for money, teams should refuse to pay. If all the teams came together and decided no one would pay the player, then they would be faced with the choice of ending their career or upholding the contract they signed.
Hobbes’s thinking and theory directly applies to this matter because when a player holds out, they are thinking about themselves rather than the community. Just as Hobbes states, humans are naturally going to do what is best for them. When a professional athlete holds out for more money, they are screwing over the rest of the team.
Professional sports are something that people all over the world idolize and follow passionately. It sends a really bad message to the people of society when a player decides to look out for himself and cost the team his production. It tells people that they should do what is best for them and not consider the effect it has on the people around them. Thanks to Hobbes and my Poly-Sci class, I can now see a gaping problem in professional sports and what should be done to fix it.