Many professional sports team moguls like George Steinbrenner, Jack Kent Cooke, and Robert McNair have also been prominent owners and breeders of racehorses. They no doubt agreed with the observation that dealing with equine athletes is much easier than meeting the demands of human athletes. The ongoing labor unrest in the National Basketball Association is the best current example.

The NBA owners’ last offer to the National Players Association was rejected for containing insufficient compensation. The owners offered a 50-50 split of basketball-generated revenues.

The average NBA salary in 2011 was $5.15 million (compared to $3.34 million in MLB, $2.4 in the NHL, and $1.9 million in the NFL).

The late Lance Corporal Benjamin Schmidt grew up around NBA players because his dad, David Schmidt, is the team physician for the NBA San Antonio Spurs. Cpl. Schmidt joined the Marines after not making much progress in college and having some issues with alcohol abuse. The Marines helped turned Cpl. Schmidt’s life around and he became a sniper. On October 6, 2011, he was killed in the fog of battle by friendly tank fire in Afghanistan, while trying to take out Taliban snipers.

Earlier this year, Cpl. Schmidt had extended his tour of duty so that his friends would not redeploy to Afghanistan without him.

NBA players are quick to point out that their careers can be brief and therefore their lofty salaries are justified. Yet, while they play a game invented for boys and girls, Cpl. Schmidt and others like him voluntarily risk their lives for relatively meager pay. A Marine Corp Lance Corporal earns about $24,000 per year, with another $225 a month thrown in if he or she is in a combat zone.

Cpl. Schmidt’s story was told on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. That publicity pales in comparison to the fame and adulation lavished on NBA players, especially the stars.

Wonder if Cpl. Schmidt would have demanded half his employer’s revenues or complained about the possibility of a short-lived career.

Cpl. Schmidt is not the most recognizable young man to have graced the locker room of the San Antonio Spurs, not by any means, but he certainly should be the most revered.

Copyright © 2011 Horse Racing Business