SportsStacy M. Brown

Despite Multimillion-Dollar Contract Deals During Pandemic, Many Say Sports Isn’t Tone-Deaf

The Kansas City Chiefs and Super Bowl hero Patrick Mahomes have announced the talented quarterback has signed a 12-year deal potentially worth more than $500 million.

It’s the richest deal in team sports history, eclipsing the more than $420 million contract the Anaheim Angels gave to outfielder Mike Trout in 2019.

After the Chiefs announced Mahomes’ deal, NASCAR driver Bubba Watson revealed a multimillion-dollar sponsorship contract with Beats By Dre.

Those agreements come as team sports have sprung back into action despite the coronavirus pandemic that has claimed more than 130,000 American lives.

That the announcements have occurred during the pandemic where 43 million Americans have filed for unemployment since March, and small businesses continue to shutter during the economic crisis, some may wonder if the timing amounts to teams and players being tone-deaf.

“Not announcing it isn’t going to make those realities any differences for the Black businesses that are facing a difficult time,” said respected journalist and cultural expert Jemele Hill. “People who are unemployed and being let go don’t want to hear about that, but people are still allowed to make money.”

Jeremy Harrison, who runs a blog called Hustle Life, suggested that making such big-money announcements isn’t tone-deaf.

“Although the timing is a bit off, I don’t think there was any malicious intent. It’s what they do and who they are,” Harrison declared. “People have always accepted that this isn’t about the money. They’re not bragging. It’s about transparency and highlighting the player and the league itself. This is how they advertise their games. This was never about showing off the money, and people get that.”

Multimillionaire athletes who come from historically disenfranchised communities are put in a complicated situation, and they’ll need to exercise some tact to speak truth to power without appearing tone-deaf, stated Daniel Caughill, the co-founder of The Dog Tale.

“People like Colin Kaepernick, Bubba Wallace and Patrick Mahomes are immensely fortunate for their wealth, but that doesn’t mean they should just shut up and not point out the inequalities they overcame to get where they are today,” Caughill said. “They’ll just have a hard time convincing members of other underprivileged groups, such as poverty-stricken regions of white Appalachia, without acknowledging their own wealth first. As with most complex issues, it requires an understanding of nuance and goodwill from all parties involved, two things many Americans have struggled to grasp in recent years.”

Brendan Heffernan, a writer and editor for the website Dunk or Three, stated that it’s likely professional sports is “a bit tone-deaf in a vacuum.”

“But you have to understand that they drive revenues in the hundreds of millions of dollars,” Heffernan said. “When you dissect the machine of professional sports, you see their salaries, as crazy as this sounds while I write it, are spot-on. If you think about it in terms of Hollywood celebrities, your mouth may hit the floor when you discover Tom Hanks makes $20 million a movie. But then you look at the amount of money the movie makes, in large part because of Hanks, and you understand the thought process.

“The same applies to pro sports,” he said. “Patrick Mahomes just signed an insane contract worth a half a billion dollars. But he makes the Chiefs so much money, and he puts them on the map as the premier team in the NFL, especially after coming off this past year’s Super Bowl victory.”

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Stacy M. Brown

I’ve worked for the Daily News of Los Angeles, the L.A. Times, Gannet and the Times-Tribune and have contributed to the Pocono Record, the New York Post and the New York Times. Television news opportunities have included: NBC, MSNBC, Scarborough Country, the Abrams Report, Today, Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News, Imus in the Morning and Anderson Cooper 360. Radio programs like the Wendy Williams Experience, Tom Joyner Morning Show and the Howard Stern Show have also provided me the chance to share my views.

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