Thursday, September 18, 2014

Pay to Play

I will preface this post by explaining that I am not John Kerry. Where the liberals of the world see thousands of shades of gray, I like to simplify the world into more primitive buckets like right and wrong. Which is a strange way to begin a post on the Minnesota Vikings. Simply put, I can't understand how they can suspend their best player, Adrian Peterson, with pay. Peterson's merited this action on the part of his employer by striking at least one of his children to the point where law enforcement had to become involved. No one defends his action.

In my simpler world view, the Vikings should ask the question: did Adrian Peterson commit an act so heinous that the organization should remove him from the team? In my simple world, there are three possible answers: yes, no, or we don't have enough information to know at this time.

If the answer is no, the Vikings would have no right to suspend Peterson. If the answer is we don't have enough information, it would seem unfair to suspend him until enough information allows us to judge. Therefore, I assume that the Vikings believe the answer is yes. I can accept that verdict, considering Peterson has not disputed the allegations against him.

So if Peterson committed an act so heinous that he must be removed from the team, why should the team pay him? I understand he is under contract, but most contracts of this type have morals clauses that void them  in the event that a player commits an act so heinous that they must be removed from their team as a result. It is worth noting that Peterson's union has not disputed the Vikings right to remove him from the team.
Yet the Vikings choose to pay Peterson over $734,000 each week that he contributes nothing to the team due to his non-football behavior.

One might ask, what is the mission of the Minnesota Vikings? Some may say it is to win football games. I would disagree. The Vikings, like all businesses, exist to make money for their ownership. They do this by providing entertainment to fans in hopes of earning revenue from two channels: 1) media contracts negotiated by their league that leverage the overall popularity of the league to produce a pot of revenue which is divided among the leagues 32 ownership groups and 2) team specific channels including ticket sales and merchandising.

One can argue that the league is harmed by the publicity Peterson has recently generated, so his continued presence jeopardizes revenue source #1. It's more of a stretch to argue that removing Peterson helps team specific revenue sources, because removing Peterson significantly harms the Vikings product. It is indisputable that the team plays better with Peterson in the lineup. The more a team loses, the less ticket buyers will likely pay money to see them. Likewise, there is a strong correlation between winning and merchandise sales. Granted, Peterson's bad publicity harms revenue source #2, but it is a lot less clear cut harm than the overall harm to revenue source #1 because of the offset to product quality.

Peterson is not the first NFL Player or Viking to run afoul of law enforcement, nor was he the first accused of domestic violence. In 2015 societal mores have changed to the point that this behavior merits suspension. In previous seasons, it did not.

So I will ask again, why are the Vikings paying Adrian Peterson while he is suspended? His job is to help the Vikings entertain their customers by playing football well. He is not doing his job because of behavior that violates society's mores. Yet the Vikings pay him a whopping $734,000 per week to await judgement from the legal system.

One could argue that Peterson's action had nothing to do with his performance on the football field, and that he should not have been suspended. I don't agree, but that position is more logical than suspending him while paying him nearly three quarters of a million dollars each week.