Friday, August 17, 2012
What if Bryce Harper Gave Up His Salary and Didn't Give Autographs, Interviews?
What if there was a 19 year-old talent who played with the same reckless abandon as Bryce Harper, but gave all his money away to charity? He decides to only keep enough money for the bare necessities.
He doesn't accept endorsement offers, give interviews to the press or provide autographs for anyone. He plays the game to entertain the sporting public to the best of his ability and wants to be left alone afterwards.
The money and fame mean nothing to him and he sticks to his principles with bold decisiveness.
No matter how hard he is pressed, he doesn't budge.
He is courteous to a fault. All those approaching for autographs are given firm handshakes until his hand hurts and he has to go. He looks people right in the eye when they are talking to him and gives them respect and the time of day.
On a day off, fans might run into him and have a brief conversation at the library, a local cafe or laundromat.
His humility and integrity wear on people and they eventually give in. They accept him for who he is, while supporting his desire to play ball without the fortune and celebrity status that comes with it.
He's part of the community too, helping when he can. He works on community gardens and at youth rec centers.
His existence is ordinary.
And, the most important thing is that he keeps getting on base and keeps making the plays in the field. Fans believe in him. He never gives up developing his craft.
Every year, the team is a contender.
He doesn't realize it, but society is evolving alongside him. His earnestness leads to a changing viewpoint of how sports stars should be looked at.
As this momentum among sportsfans builds against idolatry type of behaviors, another movement is plotting to reverse the pattern.
Other players end up conspiring against him, from his own team and other teams-across the league.
Their worries are that all the excess that they have become used to is starting to dry up and fans are becoming less interested in them.
Basically, he's affecting their bottom line and their egos. There are less endorsements. People are asking them for fewer autographs and the media is not asking for as many interviews.
Regardless of his good will intentions, tragedy is on the horizon-ready to pounce.
He has to be taken out the hard way. He has to be stopped. He can't keep living by giving up his salary and not acknowledging his popularity.
Something has to give or break. It's his legs. He's invited to a player's function and is accosted on his way home from the event.
The damage is so severe that he can't play again.
The police never find the assailants.
Years pass by. He recuperates from his life-altering injuries and realizes he'll have to find a new career.
Meanwhile, all is forgotten and everything in society goes back to how things were before. Players are again hounded by TMZ type folk and paparazzi. All the excess rolls back in to spoil them and soothe their floundering egos.
The Natural's Field of Dreams is cut short and he must settle for the Fever Pitch of Bull Durham.
He is managing in the Minor Leagues, at single-A level. He travels and teaches, all the while maintaining his same minimal ways.
The Minor Leagues suits him and he never complains. He loves the game that much.
Originally published May 15th, 2012