Domestic Violence, Spanking, And Oh Yeah, The NFL

For years, the NFL has done nothing but grow, in terms of audience, revenue, popularity, cultural placement.  The Super Bowl is annually the most watched event of the year.  Even the off-season has become wildly popular, with free agency and the draft getting more coverage and attention than the regular season of some other sports.  It was a ride straight up and up.

I always wondered when the ride would end, and with all of the press coverage centered around domestic violence, you have to wonder if this is the thing that will finally bring some stop to the rocket ship rise of  the NFL.

It All Started With Ray Rice

The stories emerged during the off-season of Ray Rice being involved with a domestic violence charge against his then fiance.  I tend to tune out a lot of the off-season stuff with the exception of that surrounding my hometown Lions, so while I was aware of it, I didn’t know the details.  That is, until the day a couple of weeks ago when the video was released.

I was listening to the radio on the way home from the gym when I’d first heard about it.  I work out early in the morning, and the video had just been released hours ago, so recently that other networks were not yet showing it, but just talking about it.

When it finally hit the main airwaves, all heck broke loose.  Anybody (like me) who hadn’t been made aware of the specific details were soon enlightened, and boy was it ugly. Rice flat out knocked out his fiance.

The video unleashed an instant firestorm.  The NFL and the Ravens were chastised for the previously announced two game suspension.  They tried to correct this.  The team released him, and the NFL reversed course by suspending him indefinitely.  Both came under fire for not having saw the video when TMZ was able to get it.

It turned into one big mess

And Then It Got Worse

Ray Rice, as it turns out, was not the only player involved in a domestic violence issue.  His just got the most attention.  Soon after his firestorm hit, attention turned to other cases that had not gotten as much attention, but were now.  Greg Hardy of the Carolina Panthers admitted to an altercation and was going through the legal system, but was still playing.

Until the team decided to change that.

Then, other players involved in cases suddenly started getting attention.  Soon, it became apparent that the Ray Rice incident was not just one isolated event.

And Then It Got Worse Than That

During the whole thing, the Ravens had a Thursday night game.  Thursday night games are broadcast on CBS, and they had an intro featuring a song by Jay-Z and Riahnna.  The same Riahanna that is one of the most popular people on the planet, but who was also the victim of domestic violence a few years ago.  CBS decided to pull her song for the week that the Ravens played.  When Riahanna heard that they were going to resume using it the following week, she went on Twitter and told them in no uncertain terms that this was not acceptable.  CBS wisely decided to stop their plans on using her song.

So at this point, you’ve got suspended athletes, accusations of, at worst, cover-ups, at the least, incompetence, plus you’ve now angered one of the most popular people on the planet.  It couldn’t get any worse right?

Wrong.  It Continues To Get Worse

To top it all off, Adrian Peterson, widely considered one of the best players in the entire NFL, is arrested and charged with child abuse for whipping his 4 year old son with a tree branch.

It breaks my heart to even write that sentence.  Look, everything else that’s happened is bad, but as bad as it is, you didn’t have children involved.  Old AP decided to change that.

What sick monster thinks that it’s OK to hit a 4 year old child with a tree branch in the name of discipline?

Nobody in their right mind, right?

Wrong.

Insert Reggie Bush

I’m a Lions fan so I’ve been thrilled that they have Reggie Bush, but that all changed when he came out and actually defended Peterson.  (What the h-e-double hockey sticks is it with running backs being at the center of all this, anyways?)

In fact, he took it further.  He said that he has a 1 year old….THAT HE DISCIPLINES.

Disciplining a one year old?  What is he even talking about?  A one year old understands very little about the world.  They don’t understand right from wrong.  They are just learning the world and their place in it.

Yet, this tool is going out there and disciplining a one year old child?  A one year old that has no idea about anything other than what the few people he or she trusts can show them.  Those people, including her father, should be showing them love.  And trust.  And strength.

Not discipline.

I will still root for the Lions but I will not cheer this fool.

My Words and Thoughts

These guys are grown men.  They’re in a violent sport.  They are stronger than most.  Their job is to intimidate, to push past others, to knock down when necessary.

But they need to leave that on the field.

These guys have no business taking that with them.  The second that game clock stops, so too should their propensity to muscle their way through by any means necessary.

Until that happens, the NFL will suffer.  The image will suffer.

I don’t think that the NFL will start sliding anytime soon. They will still be popular.  People will still watch. Sponsors will still pay obsence amounts to advertise during their games.  Sunday will still be football day.

But, the endless climb up the mountain?  I think that’s on hold for awhile.  And here’s the thing.  The fans want the NFL to do something.  But what can the NFL do?  It’s up to the players to take ownership of their actions.  It’s up to the players to be good men, and to not take up hands against their wives, fiances, girlfriends, and (I shouldn’t have to say this) their children.

The NFL can’t teach these guys to act like honorable men.  And, what’s worse is that right now the honorable men (and there are many out there) are getting outshadowed.  Let’s remember, for all the idiots like Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, Greg Hardy, and Reggie Bush, there are multiple players out there who treat the people in their lives with respect and who don’t feel the need to use their hands as ‘discipline’.

Maybe we can take the time to re-think who we root for.  That we look at who we deem a hero.  Or a role model.  Or someone whose poster we hang on our kids wall.

In the NFL, and in all sports, the men and women who play the game matter.  Maybe this will make us more aware of who we are rooting for.  We can’t just root for the players.  We have to root for the men and women that the players are.  We can’t support players who lead their team to victory but then drag their fiance unconscious out of an elevator.

Rooting for players is fine.  It’s always happened and it will continue to happen.  But, let’s not root for the animals.  Let’s root for the players that leave it on the field, that use the gift of their athletic ability to make the support exciting, but then use the grace that we are given as human beings to make positive choices once they leave their sport.  It all counts.  It all goes together.   We can’t unravel it.

Let’s stop pretending that we can.  Let’s start rooting for the best men and women to play the sports we love.  Let’s teach our kids that the best players to play the game may not automatically deserve our adoration, and explain why.  Use the current examples as teaching moments, and eventually, maybe we’ll teach our children, and maybe even the players who deserves to be rooted for.

Copyright 2014 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

6 Things Your Debt Is Costing You

I am not a fan of debt.  Most financial bloggers will agree with me.

Have you ever thought of the things that your debt can be costing you?  Here are six things that I came up with in just two minutes time!

  1. mb-201312billscoins – This is the obvious one.  When you have debt, you have to pay it off.  This is money that comes right out of your income stream, and because it’s for an item you already paid for, you are paying present money for past purchases.  There is absolutely no joy in that.
  2. Opportunity – When you pay money for your debt payments, that takes money away that you could use for other things, including making money!  Your $500 debt payment is gone, but a $500 investment in the stock market is an opportunity for future gains.  But that’s lost when you have the debt payment that comes first.
  3. Freedom – Every debt payment you make requires a certain level of income.  For some people, debt takes any income gap and then some.  These are people in extreme debt.  But, even those not in extreme debt end up with a correlation between debt and income that sees you relying on your income so that you can pay off your debt.  You’re still able to make the payments, which is great, but you’re in essence stuck doing whatever you’re doing to make income for as long as you have debt.  Remember the people in extreme debt I talked about earlier this paragraph?  The ideal thing is to be on the other extreme, where you have no debt.  When you’re there, you have freedom without having to worry about the next debt payment.
  4. Happiness – Debt causes anxiety.  Anxiety causes stress.  Stress reduces happiness.  Therefore debt costs you some level of your happiness.
  5. Sleep – Have you ever woken up and started thinking about your debt?  If you have, then chances are, rolling over and going back to sleep isn’t in the cards.  There are few things worse than being kept at night…because of debt!
  6. Your Net Worth – Financial freedom is obtained by increasing your net worth.  When you make debt payments, you’re taking an asset to pay off a liability.  This means that your debt payment realistically results in zero net worth growth.  In fact, once your next statement comes in the mail, your interest is a new liability, which actually reduces your net worth!

As you can see, debt is kind of the worst.  If you’re in debt, then getting out of debt will help you gain back some of the costs above, and I’m sure there are others.  If you get out of debt, then stay out of debt so you don’t have these costs come up and get you again.

Readers, what other costs are associated with debt?

Copyright 2014 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

I’m Officially (Pop Culture) Old

With the exception of a few brief breaks, I’ve subscribed to Entertainment Weekly since I went to college in 1992.  I actually started reading it when my dad first subscribed even before that, which I’m pretty sure he started his subscription not too long after the magazine was launched in 1990.

For the most part, I’ve really enjoyed the magazine, and it’s always helped me learn about movies and TV shows I want to watch, music I want to listen to, books I want to read, and stories about various elements in the entertainment industry.

The last couple of years have been nice because I’ve gotten the magazine for free.  Our city is part of a recycling rewards program, where you get points for your curbside recycling activity that you can then redeem to things like gift cards, local stores and restaurants, and magazine subscriptions.  It’s pretty cool to get free stuff for doing something that we would do anyways.

Lately, I’ve found that I have barely been reading my Entertainment Weekly magazine anymore, and when I do, I might spend a few minutes on it.

Since it’s a reward that ties to recycling, I feel a little bit of guilt of the wastefulness (even though I do recycle the magazine).  I also have to wonder if it’s time to give up the subscription as I just don’t seem as interested in a lot of the information, combined with the fact that I can get much of the information elsewhere.

Consider:

  • Movies – I’ll be honest.  I barely watch movies anymore.  This makes me sad in a way because I used to love going to the movies, renting movies, and could tell you just about anything with movies.  Now, we might go to the movies once a year (not counting the kids movies), and we have such little time to watch movies that I can easily get my fix through Netflix.  I can look up the info on the web for the few times I need it.
  • TV – The information on television shows is probably the most handy, but I can get that in so many places that it’s just not as useful anymore.  My website of choice for TV information is the TV section of the AV Club.  I usually get information leading up to shows that trigger interest, and that’s generally enough.
  • Music – Again, back in the day I would buy tons and tons of CDs (mostly by the mail order services that I don’t believe exist anymore), so the information on music would be very helpful.  Now, I listen to the radio, to streaming music (via Slacker), and download MP3s through the Freegal app associated with my library. On the rare occasion a song or album really interests me, I’ll buy it or download it, but it’s just not often enough to justify a weekly update.
  • Books – I do all of my reading by renting books from the library.  I subscribe to a newsfeed so whenever the library gets a new book, I can look at it and decide if it’s something I want.  I have found a few books in Entertainment Weekly that I later went back and checked out for a read, but I don’t really need the magazine to help me find stuff I like to read.
  • Stories on pop culture – The magazine does a great job of doing some headline stories often tied to the things above.  Which is great, except now that I am not as engaged, they’re not as interesting as they used to be.  Plus, I generally read NBC News and CNN, and can get a handle on what’s going on.

I think when the current subscription runs out, I will not re-subscribe.  I may consider switching to the e-tablet version that I believe you can now get for points, but I’m not even sure about that.  While it’s not costing me anything, the guilt factor plus the fact that I can apply the points to something more meaningful makes it so that it might be time to move on from Entertainment Weekly.

If I do, will the decision be permanent?  I don’t know. One thing that might bring me back, if I do give up my subscription, is that I don’t want to get stuck in ‘my generation’ when it comes to pop culture.  I don’t want to be one of those people that listens to nothing but 90’s music and talks about how terrible movies are today compared to what they were ‘in my day’.  If I find myself drifting too far back to that, I might just have to pull myself out of that trap, but for now, I might be able to go without.

Readers, what do you think?  Is it time to pull the plug on Entertainment Weekly?  How do you rate yourself in terms of pop culture knowledge and how has that changed as you’ve aged?

Copyright 2014 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Two Fools Brings Tipping Back Into Question

This past week, one of the most buzzed stories in the sports world came about when LeSean McCoy, running back for the Philadelphia Eagles, was called out publicly for leaving a 20 cent tip on a $61.56 bill.  The restaurant owner attempted to call out McCoy by posting a copy of his bill on the restaurant Facebook feed.

Now, depending on how you look at it, both McCoy and the restaurant owner are under fire.

McCoy, one of the premier players in the NFL, makes an annual salary of $9,000,000 per year.  He claimed that the service was poor, something that the restaurant owner disputes.  Nonetheless, as many have pointed out, even poor service should receive a modest tip given the low wages that wait staff made.

It reminds me of the lyrics from a song by one of my favorite 90’s rock bands, Live.

“Come on, baby
Leave some change behind.
She was a b**ch
But good enough
To leave  some change
Everybody’s good enough
For some change”

My thoughts is that they are both wrong:

Regardless of whether McCoy makes $9,000,000 per year or $9,000, leaving a twenty cent tip is just inexcusable.  I’ve been in situations where I’ve had lousy service, and in those cases, you can reduce the tip, but I’d leave 10% as a minimum.  That still provides for something, but it sends the message that something was wrong.  I’ve also learned that if things are unsatisfactory, it’s advisable to speak to the manager (or owner) and more often than not, things will be corrected.  McCoy made no such effort, and instead spoke up passively, making himself look bad in the process.

At the same time, the restaurant owner had no business posting a copy of the receipt showing the photo of the receipt.  That was in very bad taste, and to me, showed that he was just doing so in hopes of getting publicity.  If he really was, as he claimed, just trying to support his staff member, he could have posted a generic message on this restaurant’s feed in support of the staff (not mentioning anything that would give McCoy away), or if (as he claimed) he was present and knew that the service was great, he could have given the waiter the $9 or so that he would have gotten with a standard 15% tip.

Instead, Charlie Sheen of all people was the one that came in and offered the waiter $1,000.

I personally think that this was a tale of two idiots and the whole thing could have been avoided with some better judgment on both sides.

But, I guess that wouldn’t be sensational and newsworthy, now, would it?

Copyright 2014 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Sticker Shock At The Drugstore

This past weekend, my wife and I did something that we’ve talked about doing for years: taking what ended up being a 26 mile bike ride.  We have a good trail system around, and the end of one of the trails takes you all the way up to a nearby city.  We’ve taken the trail a number of times, but have always turned around.  We thought we’d finally give it a shot, so off we went.

It’s a pretty easy ride in terms of being on flat ground that’s covered in gravel (it’s a converted railroad bed), but it still felt good when we pulled into town.  I’m not normally one to undo the benefits of exercise with treats, but given that it was our first time, we thought we might wander into a nearby CVS and get a small treat.

We both love ice cream so we first wandered over to the freezers to look at their single serve ice cream treats.  I thought I was reading things incorrectly when an ice cream sandwich was $3.29.

Nope.  It was right.

A frozen Twix?  $2.99 as were most items.  The cheapest item, an ice cream sandwich type thing was $1.99.  Yikes.

No ice cream.

I started looking around the store, and I was unable to believe my eyes at the prices of things.

I don’t do much shopping in drugstores, but the everyday price of just about…everything…was crazy.

9 volt batteries for over $2.

Individual candy bars for $1.25.

A ten ounce bag of potato chips for $4.

At this point, I wasn’t looking to actually buy, I just wanted to see the prices.

The calamine lotion test

I decided to check things out from another recent experience that kind of acted as a trigger.  A few weeks ago, my son got bit up really bad by mosquitoes.  They like me, but they love him.  He probably had 50-60 bites on his legs and was complaining about itching.

Given that it was around bedtime, my wife ran out to the nearest store, which happened to be a Walgreens, and brought back a bottle (6 ounces) for $5.69.  I thought that seemed high, but whatever.

My wife mentioned it to her sister, who said that she had also gotten some that week, but had purchased hers at WalMart…and it was $2.19.

Astounding difference

So, while my wife and I were walking around CVS, I figured I’d see what their price was, if they were also 250% or so higher.

As it turns out, they weren’t.  They were over 300% higher.

Their price was $6.99.

My jaw just about hit the floor.

We ended up escaping with what I think was the cheapest items sold in the store, a couple of bags of generic gummy bears/worms.

On my way out, I noticed the area behind the counter that used to house cigarettes, which they just discontinued selling last week.  One of the things always mentioned since CVS announced this decision to stop selling smokes, is that they made over $1 billion in profit from them.

I commented to my wife that they must have decided to look to make up the lost profits by jacking up the prices of everything else.

I suppose there probably are deals to be found in drugstores, but my guess is that you have to take advantage of sales and coupons to actually walk away with any type of savings.  But if you pay full price at the drugstore, prepare to be gouged.

Copyright 2014 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Are Cheeseburgers Worth As Much As Babies?

I have been reading a lot about the protests going on, apparently throughout the United States, where fast food workers want to make a minimum of $15 per hour.  Last week here in Detroit, a bunch of workers protested, and 25-30 got arrested after they took to the streets…literally, by blocking traffic on major thoroughfares during the morning rush hour.

I have to be perfectly blunt on where I stand with this issue, and it’s not at all with the workers.  Before you paint me as some heartless scumbag, let me outline my reasons.

  1. You lost me when you shut down traffic – If workers wanted to gather and demonstrate to get media attention, fine.  But when they shut down traffic, sorry, you lost me.  The people whom they were blocking traffic for were regular people just trying to get to their jobs.  And, the demonstrators made it so that they couldn’t.  Innocent people with no skin in the game became collateral damage to those looking to make a point that could have been made without negatively affecting other people.  I equate this to people in traffic that pull out in front of other people before traffic clears, because they don’t want to wait a spot.  You shouldn’t make your problem other people’s problem.
  2. A real world comparison – Somebody I know worked at a day care facility taking care of a room full of toddler age children.  She worked there for seven years and was barely making $11 per hour.  She left that job to go to one that paid closer to $15, which she got only after negotiating.  Sorry, but you’ll never convince me that taking care of children all day, being instrumental in their development, and overseeing their well being for a huge chunk of their young lives is worthy of less compensation than working in a fast food environment.
  3. The market does not and can not bear $15 – If fast food companies could not find enough qualified people to work at lower wages, then the wages would go up. Pure and simple.  But, since they can find plenty of applicants to work at lower wages, free market theory indicates that there’s no rational economic reason for $15 to be paid.
  4. Paying $15 would mean job losses – Simple cause and effect tells me this: If fast food minimum wages went up to $15, prices would go up.  If prices go up, people would buy less fast food.  If people bought less fast food, restaurants would close.  If restaurants close, workers lose their job.  Bottom line, there’s no way the market could simply absorb these costs without a portion of workers going from what they make today to zero.
  5. No company has a responsibility to provide employees with a standard of living – The basic premise behind the $15 number is that the current minimum wage is not high enough for a worker to support themselves.  I don’t dispute that.  In fact, simple math tells me it’s true.  But, where is it the responsibility of the fast food companies to provide this?  Call me heartless, but the fact of the matter is that any company is expected to provide fair wages for the work performed.  That’s what I get.  While it so happens that I do make enough to support my family, what if that changed?  What if there was an illness and we couldn’t afford treatment on my salary?  Do I have a right to march in and demand more money?  Of course not.  What if my wife and I decided to take after the Duggan’s and shoot for 19 kids?  Would I go into my bosses office after each birth and demand a raise?  No.  That’s silly.

The point is that while $10 per hour (roughly the minimum wage) is peanuts compared to some of the costs, I don’t think that simply demanding an industry specific artificial prop is the answer.  There are other ways that each person has to work through and take personal responsibility for making the decisions about:

  • Reduce expenses – I’d be interested to see how many of the protesters have smart phones with high data plans with which they go to social media to propegate their ’cause’.
  • Side hustle – There are other ways to make money when you’re not at work.  Cut grass, shovel snow, clean windows, write a blog, or any other number of things.
  • Second jobs – When I hear stories about my parents and grandparents generations, there are multiple stories of people who worked multiple jobs.  It’s hard, it can be grueling, but it’s what people have done when the first job isn’t enough.

Personally, I hearken the whole thing to the Occupy Wall Street movement of a few years ago, as the common theme is trying to take ones problems and project them to others in order to gain a solution, rather than working the solution themselves.  I just can’t get behind that especially when it involves, you know, blocking traffic.

Readers, what do you think about the whole uprising going on for $15 per hour wages?

 

Copyright 2014 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.