I think that greed is a loaded word. It means something like ambition with bad motives. (1)
C.S. Lewis stated that there is a right and wrong manifestation for every personality trait. For example, a competititve person might get more things done but be cruel or prone to gambling. A fearful person might not take enough risks but might be more prudent, and not take enough risks and so on. (2)
What motives do professional athletes have? Here's a list, not in any particular order:
1. Desire to dominate opponents;
2. Love of the game;
3. Love of artistry, desire to reach your own potential;
7. Sense of obligation to people paying for your contract;
Motives 2 and 7 are the only motives that are always good. You can't enjoy the game too much, and you can't uphold your end of the bargain too much. The player I see exemplifying these two motives is Robinson Cano. He loves baseball. He plays stickball in his spare time in the DR. He promotes the Mariners at every turn. He spends his off season helping the Mariners general manager recruit free agents. He spends time mentoring younger players. He always supports the manager and general manager. He helps the Mariners at the Dominican Republic school/ scouting facility. When he needs surgery, he gets it done within two weeks of the end of the season so he can get a jump on rehab and be ready for the next year. He is always in good physical condition, and he plays when he is sick and injured. Kyle Seager is the same way. (3)
Both of these guys have a greed to them as well. Seager is particularly greedy for succcess. In a tie game, you can see him become consumed by blood lust. How many walk off line drives into the right field bleachers and off the wall does one man have to have? If raking were a pathology, Seager would be clinical. He is the proverbial gulper catfish of the fish tank. His modus operandi is eating rivals headfirst, three RBI's at a time. Bloodthirstiness is what we like about Seager, isn't it? He lives to punish his opponents and click his heels after the latest splash fest.
That's why he has a $100 million dollars, while his UNC bash brother Dustin Ackley is almost out of baseball. I get the sense that Seager doesn't care about his $100 million as much as he cares about his next three hit game. (4)
I don't think that the love of money is as addicting to athletes as the love of the glory shot. This is because: At some point, money becomes un motivating. $252,000,000 doesn't buy you substantially more than $100,000,000. You have your $5,000,000 mansion, your fleet of cars, your boat, a few cabins in various places and all the travel you can stomach, and that's all you want. The price tag for a lifetime of decadence is about $15,000,000. More than that, what's the point? (5)
The guys who are extremely motivated by money are the ones who grew up dirt poor. Marshawn Lynch only had one set of clothes, and not enough food to eat when he was growing up. His mom was always broke. Alex Rodriguez was raised in a single mom grinding poverty as well. Robinson Cano grew up in grinding poverty.
For these guys, a record contract is important to them. To them, money is precious, and getting paid what you are worth is a principle.
Players from a middle class background, like Felix Hernandez and Kyle Seager, are the ones willing to give the hometown discount. Note that they both grew up in a traditional home with a mom and dad and enough food. Hernandez' parents own a trucking company. He had his own bedroom growing up. This isn't exactly the hard knock life of playing stickball in the dirt in the DR. As a result, he doesn't really care whether he makes $175,000,000 or $225,000,000.
The Seahawks example of a non-greedy player, Michael Bennett, (and Earl Thomas) both had active and involved fathers and an apparently middle class background. The greedy player, Kam Chancellor, grew up dirt poor with no dad. (6)
Now there is such a thing as a person using conspicuous displays of wealth as a way to put down others, or make himself feel more important than others. I'm thinking of Donald Trump. He uses his inherited wealth to splash his name, and people that aren't as rich as he is are losers. Boo and hiss all you want for this kind of money lust. But, I think that the Donald's greed stems from a sense of inferiority or inadequacy. I don't think that there have been any professional athlete that ever felt inferior or inadequate. At least not enough to get pleasure out of putting down ordinary people. To reach the bigs, they have already bested a 1,000 rivals. They don't need to tell a twenty something business grad that he is fired. (7)
There may be some bad motives in sports, but money lust is the only one that we aren't complicit in. (8) I want to see Seager hurt, humiliate and crush the Rangers. I want to see Felix's next Orc stomping. That's the main point of tuning in. However, I think that the money motive is largely innocent or at least mitigated. Cinderella has been burned by poverty, so now she has an unhealthy hoarding relationship with money. This does not make her bad. She just has some warts. Don't begrudge Marshawn his Lambo or treat his greed the same as the Donald's.
(8) I hadn't thought of that. Will chew on it like a Great Dane on a cowhide bone. Hopefully I won't feel as guilty after my Pokemon search for self-vindication. Ego defenses? Gotta Catch 'Em All.
(7) Feel free to use these comments to discuss Donald Trump, Gentle Reader.
James called his defining trait "narcissism." Am not sure I'd agree with that word selection. Ivanka said she watched him spend his life seeking out the downtrodden, one per day, and giving them a hand up to "feel like life could be great again." Don Jr. says that Don Sr. listens as carefully to the recommendations of a cabinet finisher as he does to those of a bank president. By all accounts his thirst for wise counsel, his ability to listen, is insatiable. In a boardroom with $1 Billion at stake, I'm sure he's the calmest person in the room, and in a nuclear crisis I suspect he'd be the same.
In any case, he should get full credit for his service to women and the poor. Have any of US taken as much TIME as Donald Trump has, to help the less fortunate? Seriously, take a moment on that point.
True narcissism tends to be unconcerned with the problems of others. Narcissists tend not to raise well-adjusted sons. Misogynists tend not to raise self-assured, ambitious, and happy daughters. Let's be accurate in our criticisms of others; there's plenty to criticize about Donald Trump that is fair.
But! Donald Trump also gets credit for a truly sickening ego. It takes a special kind of self-image to put your last name, in a huge melodramatic font, onto the front of a hotel. And by any definition of greed, he is the personification. Long after he had far more money, power and fame than any man could consume, he continued to pursue these things -- obsessively. He is a caricature of himself when it comes to "greed."
My first impression is that obscene greed and ego, if tempered with authentic love and caring for his fellow man, does not make him a "despicable" person; it makes him unpleasant, which is different than evil. The U.S.A. has had many unpleasant men as Presidents, as the Mariners had a very unpleasant starting pitcher who owned baseball.
This is ten degrees off subject, but it was just last week that I realized Donald Trump enjoys being hyper-provocative with his words. He doesn't call President Obama "the founder of ISIS" because he's stupid; he does it knowing very well that it will cause an uproar. He loves the uproar. He doesn't just use it, politically; he wears the uproar like a drunken lampshade on his head.
Could a President do that? I dunno. I think it bears some consideration whether it would be good or bad, to have an American President who hollers like Teddy Roosevelt did, as opposed to one who believes that American deference will make the world a safer place. It bears consideration.
My own bias is that when you are dealing with Nazis or jihadists, Nicer does not equal Safer. My vote, if crazy men want us dead, goes to Winston Churchill, not Neville Chamberlain. But that's a debate in itself.
(6) I grew up so poor that my toys were gravel rocks in the motel driveway. We had potted beef liver three times a week because it was 49c. My brother and I were beaten by a psychopathic stepdad who woke us up out of sleep with a leather belt. Despite that, I still choose not to throw bricks through the windows of police cars with the police inside the car, and have never stood before a judge answering for a felony.
We don't get high because we had no fathers; we get high because we enjoy being high. We hurt people because we enjoy hurting people. Any 12-step counselor will call us on that.
That said, when you get a defense attorney saying "these are the childhood backgrounds I see in ruined lives every day" it is very compelling, is it not? Thank you very sincerely for the reminder, Mojo.
(5) Just so! Which is another C.S. Lewis quote, "$1M will buy any luxury that any man can truly enjoy."
(4) That's the idea I was looking for. Russell Wilson cares more about throwing a TD pass than he cares about the NFL lifestyle. That's it exactly. He wants to win first, and look good / make money / marry starlets / become President second.
That's all we ask for from our athletes. Care about winning first. Then the evening's ballgame has a real soul to it.
(3) Didn't know about stickball in the D.R. That is absolutely epic. :- ) Now I like Robinson Cano way more.
(2) This concept from Lewis is a key building block towards humility. For example, I'm not "precious" about my car; if somebody door-dings it I barely notice. But then again, I've struggled with debt a lot of my life. My sister is painfully "precious" about her belongings, but she's a working-class girl with $500,000 in the bank.
A "greedy" person like Donald Trump has many, many positive things associated. In the book of Proverbs, the wisdom writer commanded us to live our lives with gusto. Not in a passive, sad, woe-is-me way; go out and seize the day with 'elan.
(1) In court, I would smilingly put up a dictionary definition of the word and ask whether the dictionary is loaded. :: big smile Mojo ::
But, to the broader point, yes, definitely. We tend to apply the term "greed" to our enemies and the word "ambition" toward our friends. Which is one more example of the nuance and wisdom the Counselor seems to give us with every opening statement.