In a week when Manny Machado agreed to a $300 million contract with the San Diego Padres, and Bryce Harper could get more than that from the Philadelphia Phillies (or another team), we get a tweet like this from Howard Eskin of WIP radio:
@Bharper3407 are you more interested in money or playing for a good team and organization? If it’s about money I think that motivation doesn’t show me your desire to win. You know the #phillies are good organization and team so what’s the issue and holdup. So it is about money!— Howard Eskin (@howardeskin) February 17, 2019
Big player contracts are always framed in an interesting way by sports media. It’s rare that the player is seen in a positive light by fans and media after signing a deal like Machado’s or like the one Harper will sign. Historically, coverage of player contracts has been incredibly anti-player (dating back to the coverage of Joe DiMaggio’s holdout in the 1930s).
Why is this? A few reasons. But one of the main ones is our old pal The Sport Ethic.
The worldview of elite athletes features, as part of it, the desire to win above all else. To be an athlete, you are supposed to care about your sport and winning above everything else. To do anything else is to betray you’re calling as an athlete.
And to take the money from a lesser team, you are seen as betraying that which makes sports special.