Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Kantarian Deserves Credit, Not Scorn

Why is that every time a prominent figure's income is learned, and that income happens to be about 9 thousand times bigger than the common man's salary, we begrudge this man before ever taking a look at his accomplishments?

Plastered all over the internet yesterday was the news that Arlen Kantarian earned over 9 million dollars in 2008, his last year as CEO of the USTA. Immediately, animosity started to flow.

"They aren't doing anything. This is total crap," wrote Yahoo user, Ray Elarmo yesterday. 'Eliminate people like that and the price of goods would go down. I guarantee that. Hamburgers would be 2 bucks instead of 8 bucks."

But here's the deal: without hard working forward thinking people like Arlen Kantarian, much of whose pay was drawn because of the wildly successful turn in revenues at the U.S. Open over the last few years, I'm afraid that we'd have a less entertaining sport (without instant replay and those thank-god-you-thought-of-that blue courts), in addition to $8 hamburgers.

As an aside, I would like to add that I felt the hamburgers were by far the best bargain of all the fare at the U.S. Open in 2009.

But I digress. My point in taking offence at people's haughty reactions to Kantarian's reported income, is that they really have no business doing so. Well, I shouldn't go that far, it is a free country after all, but it'd be nice if people could, every once in a while, realize that incentive is a beautiful thing. In the economy that those who complain every time somebody's breathtaking mind blowing income is reported envision, there would be little incentive for any of these cutting-edge "idea" people to actually make a difference.

Many a respected journalist knew that Kantarian was good for the sport, and sometimes, much to the chagrin of envious people who would much rather complain about other peoples success than take charge of their own, people who are good at what they do get paid exceptionally well for it.

Read this piece by Bonnie Ford
to find out some of Kantarian's contributions to the sport.

While his reported income may seem high for a supposedly grass roots National tennis program, anyone who read beyond the headline can see that the bonuses were performance based. In other words, the terms of the contracts were clearly stated, and Kantarian was payed by those terms.

Americans need to stop turning their heroes into villains just because they earned a pretty penny in the process of fulfilling their obligations. There are wrongs in the world that need to be righted, I'll not argue that, but people need to let go of their envy and realize that Kantarian has nothing to do with the price of hamburgers.

He does, on the other hand, have a lot to do with the fact that tennis has kept pace with the other media-savvy sports in the world. By creating the U.S. Open series, by helping to immensely boost revenues at our signature tennis even (the U.S. Open), and by changing the way the sport is viewed on television and perceived by the media, Kantarian has turned the USTA's investment in him into a victory for all American Tennis fans.

People who get paid well for doing exceptional work are not the problem in this country. On the other hand, people who do nothing but complain, well, maybe we're getting a little closer to the heart of the matter now.

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