I was reading the sports pages of our local newspaper. Alvin was cutting Ray’s hair. He is the coach of the high school football team in our neighborhood.
“Hey, Ray,” I called, “I see in the paper that the football and basketball coaches at the university are getting pay raises. Man, they have become millionaires overnight.”
“You know, I wanted to be a baseball coach,” said Leroy.
Ray spoke with his head down because Alvin was pressing it forward to cut the back. “Yeah, but at whose expense. The economy is in bad shape, and the university is cutting programs and faculty and raising tuition. Man, that is no way to run a business.”
Alvin paused. “What I want to know is how can they afford to pay coaches so much money and not pay the professors. I’ll tell you how. We, the folks who go see the games, pay for it. Folks losing jobs and gas is as high as a flood on the Mississippi, yet we still find money to go to the football and basketball games.”
“Ray,” teased Jabo, “you oughta get you one of them jobs at a big time college.”
“Hey, old man,” Ray shot back, “I’m doing better than you did at my age. And I’m probably paying your pension.”
Leroy dipped his oar into the conversation. “Man, I wouldn’t pay them guys no million dollars, I don’t care how many games they win.”
“I don’t like to see them making all that money,” replied Alvin, “but, they put folks in the stands. Professors don’t put nobody in the stands. They don’t bring in the kinda money the coaches do. Money breeds money, know what I mean.”
“Professors bring in grants,” I said.
“But not as much money as the coaches,” replied Ray.
“Well,” said Jabo, “I think they oughta pay them young men for playin ball cause they the ones bringin in the money.”
“You got that right,” said Leroy.
“I think we ought to form a citizens’ committee to protest the raises the coaches are getting while the university is cutting programs and faculty and raising tuition,” I suggested.
“What’s wrong with you,” responded Alvin, “what is wrong with you. You must be crazy with the heat and think you livin right. In this part of the country, you know football is king, and basketball ain’t far behind. It ain’t gonna happen.”
“I tell you this much,” offered Ray, “with gas at four dollars a gallon, you can expect to pay more money to get into the games.”
“Amen, brother. You know what you talkin bout.” This time Leroy got in the last word.