My girlfriend and I share a difference of opinion when it comes to sports salaries. She believes that professional athletes should not make the gigantic salaries that some earn, I believe that if they can find someone to pay the price they ask, God bless. Does it really affect our daily lives? No. Her opinion is on a moral ground (don’t ask me to explain, I can’t), and mine is need vs. availability.

Perhaps the only time that this issue affects our lives is when we purchase tickets to a game. It comes as no surprise that New York is expensive. I’m not suggesting that reasonable bargains cannot be had for our area sports teams, but some of the prices for seats are staggering. (Personally, the only thing that really annoys me is the “ticket fees”.) When I purchase some tickets for a baseball game recently, I got to thinking about how much teams make.

Every team is like a giant industry unto itself. There are players, coaches, managers, public relations officials, media coordinators, hot dog vendors, overseas operations executives, etc… I cannot begin to fathom all the people involved. …but is $400 for a seat reasonable? Is $1000 a seat?

Here are some numbers from the New York Yankees. I know that everyone likes to pick on the Yankess, but sorry, heavy is the head that wears the crown. These are based on the old (2008) stadium.

Total Capacity: 56,936
There are 81 home games each season (not including postseason). If they operated at 70% capacity (39,855) and sold tickets for $20 each, they would make $797,100 per game, totaling $64,565,100 per season. While that is only half of their player payroll for 2008, it is still quite a number. Remember, this does not include concessions or television deals.

The money issue gets very interesting when you discuss college sports. Jim Calhoun recently had a confrontation with a reporter that did not believe that his $1.6 million dollar salary was deserved. Keep in mind, by many account, Calhoun single-handedly built the UConn program into the national powerhouse it is today. The national attention generated by the sports program has translated into increased applications and increased revenue for the school and state. However, some believe that with a state in deficit, an athletic coach should not be the highest paid employee. I thought it was simple math. Without him, the state would gain his salary, but would be without the $12 million he generates. Some disagree.

Sports are funny. Many of us wear our passions on our sleeves (or on our chests with our favorite jerseys). Logic and reason can go out the window when discussing our favorite or least-favorite athletes. We give our love, and occasionally, our begrudging respect. We invest time and emotion. I suppose that is why most cannot stand dispassionate play or players. In the cold mathematics of hard-earned dollars, how hot is your passion? How much do you pay for being a fan?