Thursday, December 07, 2006

X Should Play For Less

I've found that a lot of fans seem to think that players will/should take discounts to play for a particular team. They reason that if a particular player likes playing in a particular place, he would certainly be willing to take less money to stay. Let's call this the 'why Ryan Smyth was upset about his contract negotiations' argument.

Think of it this way: You work at a widget factory, assembling widgets. You assemble 24 widgets an hour, a rather remarkable pace. A friend of yours works at the widget factory across the street; he's a slow worker, and although he puts in the same effort as you, he can only manage 18 widgets an hour. Despite this, your friend makes 24 dollars an hour while you only make 18. At the end of the year, your boss calls you into his office to discuss a raise. He offers you 20 dollars an hour for your 24 widget an hour pace. Sure you're happy at your current job; everyone is nice to you and you really like your co-workers, but you can make a lot more money at the other factory, where it's likely that everyone will be nice to you, and you will like your co-workers.

Would you accept 20 dollars an hour, or would you go across the street and see if you can get a job at the competing widget factory?

People get caught up in the fact that hockey players make millions rather than thousands of dollars a year. Although this is true, it's important to realize that while the criteria for evaluation has changed - hockey performance rather than widget assembly - players still 'think' in the same way we do about these things.

Wouldn't you be insulted if your boss offered you a raise that was less than your under productive buddy makes across the street? I know I would.


Clearly there are extenuating circumstances such as 'winning the cup'. However, let's say for the sake of clarity that the team (factory) competing for your services has an equal chance of 'winning the cup'. In this case, would you you be insulted by the lowball offer? Remember, your boss knows exactly how many widgets your friend produces across the street, and exactly what he is paid to do it.


Anonymous said...

One flaw in your analogy. "Across the street" should be changed to across the country; or at least to another city. For a man with a family, such as Ryan Smyth, I'm sure that the cost (both financial and emotional)of moving his family to another city would have to be considered against the size of any potential raise. Using this more realistic analogy one would also have to consider the quality of life in the potential new city, as well as any change to the cost of living. Yes, I know they are millionaire athletes, but the million dollars goes much farther in Edmonton then, for instance, Vancouver.

Of course, the employee/player may also consider the quality of life to be better in Vancouver.

Anyways, getting off track there, but the point is that the player would be considering much more then the amount of the paycheque (although, that is of course quite important, and the ego-stroke of being able to say that you're making more than your buddy across the street could come into play).

kinger said...

My point was less about all the extenuating circumstances, as I tried to point out in the edit. Of course a number of factors play into the situation, both positive and negative. The problem is, it's pretty much impossible to get inside a players head, making it difficult to quantify those positives and negatives. Let me try and better illustrate my point.

Regardless of whether or not you like working at the widget factory, or that your family lives closer to a particular factory, it does not change the fact that many of us would be insulted if our bosses offered us a lowball raise.

Anonymous said...

It depends on the individual I guess.

Smytty's comments last week seemed almost like a put-on to me, like a guy who was mouthing what he was told to say. Guys who left won the Cup. Arnott. Weight. They did but its not like they were like Robataille and moved on to a top team as a UFA. And nowadays with parity where are you going to go - he's as likely to win in Edmonton as anywhere.

I understand the point and who knows what Smyth feels but the whole idea, for example, that he should be upset because Staios was signed first ... well if it were me I would not expect them to take care of me first - if they come to agreement with Staios then sign the extension - you can't wait for Smyth to get done. What if he's not done until June 30 next season? Do you let Staios and Moreau walk?

But, as you said maybe that did piss him off. Who knows??

Art Vandelay said...

Just hearing the phrase "hometown discount" would insult me. It prety much means "we all know you could make a bagfull of loot elswhere, but we think you're stupid enough to take a lot less to stay here."
Hockey players are on the road for 41 games a year plus playoffs. How many nights do they sleep in their own beds anyway? For the extra $1-2M Smyth could make elsewhere, he could fly in every member of his family for weekend visits if he gets lonely.
I don't think Edmontonians, with all due respect, want to bank on the quality of life argument. For a couple million bucks you have the nicest house in Edmonton and you live like a king. King of Greenland, maybe, but a king nonetheless. For a couple million bucks you have an awesome house in Vancouver too, except there's no snow and you're surrounded by beautiful mountains. No matter the city, these guys are living in the posh suburbs, not the projects.
The Oilers are going to have to pony up.