Monday, October 03, 2011

Is There Anything Wrong With His Analogy?

Fran Tarkenton, Hall of Fame quarterback:
Imagine the National Football League in an alternate reality. Each player's salary is based on how long he's been in the league. It's about tenure, not talent. The same scale is used for every player, no matter whether he's an All-Pro quarterback or the last man on the roster. For every year a player's been in this NFL, he gets a bump in pay. The only difference between Tom Brady and the worst player in the league is a few years of step increases. And if a player makes it through his third season, he can never be cut from the roster until he chooses to retire, except in the most extreme cases of misconduct.

Let's face the truth about this alternate reality: The on-field product would steadily decline. Why bother playing harder or better and risk getting hurt?

No matter how much money was poured into the league, it wouldn't get better. In fact, in many ways the disincentive to play harder or to try to stand out would be even stronger with more money.

Of course, a few wild-eyed reformers might suggest the whole system was broken and needed revamping to reward better results, but the players union would refuse to budge and then demonize the reform advocates: "They hate football. They hate the players. They hate the fans." The only thing that might get done would be building bigger, more expensive stadiums and installing more state-of-the-art technology. But that just wouldn't help.

If you haven't figured it out yet, the NFL in this alternate reality is the real -life American public education system. Teachers' salaries have no relation to whether teachers are actually good at their job—excellence isn't rewarded, and neither is extra effort. Pay is almost solely determined by how many years they've been teaching. That's it. link
There's a small difference. The players actually want to win, and so do the owners. They're competitors by nature. That's not necessarily so with teachers and/or students.


mrelliott said...

Great analogy, and I agree with what he is saying about how ludicrous the pay system for teachers is. In every school district I've worked in there are the teachers who have been there for years, 30-40 years, who are sitting back earning the most income they ever have, and are basically doing nothing. They do the very least they have to do, have terrible attitudes, and don't care about the students or the educational environment. They just sit and earn their paycheck, enjoy their benefits, and call in sick every chance they can.

Now that I'm at the college level, I see it here too. When asked about a department issue, a professor I work with said, "I don't really care. I just sit in my ivory tower and play the tenured professor that I am."

Not every educator is like this, but there are enough out there, I think its an issue that should be addressed.

MikeAT said...

I'm a cop in Houston and we have similar issues. We have young studs who go out and go after bad guys and then we have a number of people who just take their calls for service but otherwise do nothing. And generally they are older officers in the department (although we do get some lazy guys right from the field training program...the department is working on that).

Something that kinda ties into this. Our mechanics used to be paid by the job, not a flat wage. A good one could get a vehicle service (oil change, grease job, etc) in 40 minutes. They are under use or lose vacation and some would loose their time to stay working. The money was too good.

Well the department, in it's infinite wisdom, took them off that system. Now it's taking 2-3 days to get a vehicle back from service. And they are taking their vacation.

maxutils said...

Yes, his analogy is horrible, because NFL players are paid on an even stupider basis -- because contracrts aren't guaranteed, rookies get paid much more than their worth, mostly in signing bonuses. Just look at Ryan Leaf, who got tens of millions to play less than one year; Jamarcus Russel who lasted a couple; Brian Bosworth; Tony Mandarich. I would much rather have a systemthat rewarded players after three years of . . . at least acceptability. Tarkenton is a moron.

Darren said...

Do you think play in the league would be any better if everyone were paid based only on seniority?


maxutils said...

Well . . . not solely based on seniority. You still have to make the team, just as teachers have to make minimum standards. But, yes -- especially when you have a salary cap. By the way, the NBA does this with rookies for their first three years, I believe, and my Master's thesis found years of service to be one of two statistcally significant factors for salary, and they do just fine. Football is the only sport where most contracts aren't guaranteed, so money is piled in to the wheelbarrow up front. That would be lie giving a teacher 500k up front, before knowing if they could teac at all.