Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Twitter: #DanEllisProblems

**Updated: 7:12 am And sadly exactly what we were afraid would happen has. Dan Ellis has shut down his twitter account proving there really is NO Freedom of Speech in this country. Very sad indeed.

@33Ellis: Kind of scary how much trouble 140 characters can create! Wow!

Yep, Dan Ellis, Tampa Bay backup goalie, a 30-year-old hockey player who has been up and down in the NHL numerous times since 2003, found out about the power of Twitter the hard way. It wasn’t meant to be a slight or a bold statement. It was part and parcel of a conversation with a football player with his own personal problems.

With the NFL possibly headed into their own work stoppage, Ellis re-tweeted Bush’s tweet about the bone of contention in the NFL negotiations:

RT @reggie_bush:: ok so what is the sticking point with the negotiations? (the owners want the Players to take an 18% pay cut)..try 24% NHL

He then went on to say that no one likes to take an 18% pay cut. The man is spot on. But what happened in the next few exchanges just blew so far out of proportion it was insane. Sadly, I missed the entire thing. But it was picked up by every sports media outlet all day yesterday and most of today.

Perhaps Ellis’s biggest mistake was to be so bold as to jab at PuckDaddy for picking up on the story.

@wyshynski glad to provide u with a story. Sad u have to raid twitter just to come up with an idea.

Don’t poke the media Dan. Especially not the NEW media! It always ends badly. Now perhaps he didn’t realize that every radio station that carries hockey had already picked up on the story and was using it to fill out all their time slots. When there is a slow day of Hockey News -- this is food for the masses.

But I have a different take on this subject. And I can guarantee you’re not going to like it.

I understand and can sympathize with what Mr. Ellis said. (I will duck and cover now.) How can I possibly take the side of a guy who has a new contract for more than I’ll ever see in my lifetime just to play a game? Simple. I did the math.

No one wants to take a pay cut no matter how much they make. But before you start thinking about how much money hockey players make, let’s throw some numbers around.

Let’s say that a player makes close to League minimum or $550,000. NHL players are paid bi-monthly beginning on October 15th and ending on April 15th. So they get 14 paychecks. Let’s say that’s a 35% tax bracket. Lose $192,500 off the gross.

NHLPA escrow has been anywhere from 14% to 22% and could go as high as 24%. Now, the players did get back 12% of the money last season, but lets take 22% out of the $550,000. Okay, slash another $121,000 off the top. What about Union dues? You know so the NHLPA can keep paying out three ex-Executive Directors. I don’t know how much they are but I read all over the place the dues exist and everyone has to pay them, even if they don’t want to belong to the union. Okay, how about $100 month? I know that’s low, but it’s easy math for me. So that’s another $1200 for the year out the window. WAIT! I forgot about the agent fee! That would be anywhere from 5 - 10%. Okay, if he’s only making $550,000 he probably is at the low end of the scale, so 5% to pay for the agent’s services, lose another $27,500.

State & local taxes? How about another 5%? I am lazy, yes. I like easy numbers and I already multiplied that one. Local government gets $27,500. So what’s left? $180,800. Yep, it’s a lot, but look how much is lost! That's $369,200 or 67% of the gross.

Okay, that’s $12,914.29 each pay check or about $26,000 a month net. While that certainly is a very comfortable living,(one I'd love to have a shot at) think about having two households to pay for. Try not be become indignant over Ellis saying he worries more about money now than he did in college.

Players don’t only have one home. They are transient. They maintain homes where they want to actually live and one where they are employed. So that’s one mortgage one rent or two rents. Utilities, cars, insurance, lawn services, etc. Think of all the things that eat up your paycheck. They have those too, times two. I know, you’re saying “boo hoo!” about now, but it’s something to think about.

What if their family doesn’t live with them? Kids have to have a stable environment to go to school in. They can’t be moving every year come March. So, while a team pays for the player to fly from city to city in order to work, if a family wants to go see Daddy play somewhere, that’s on the player to pay for along with the tickets and hotel. Players are given two tickets to each home game gratis. Should they need more or if they need away tickets, they have to buy them.

Yes, all their equipment is paid for by the team. All their uniforms are paid for. And yes, they even get per diem pay at $95 per day for meal money (read: beer) when they are traveling. This sounds amazing right? But maybe they can do this for five years, maybe seven, maybe one.

All this number crunching was brought to mind by a little story Ray Ferraro told on his new radio show on Team 1040 Vancouver. He mentioned how Dean McAmmond (a player I really hoped would stay an Islander) took a contract with NJ at league minimum. When all was said and done it basically cost him money to play that season. But he had a job in the NHL.

What I am trying to say is that Dan Ellis should not be vilified for making statements that he did not mean as a rallying cry for overpaid athletes everywhere. He’s just a guy making a good living trying to make sense of his checkbook. Just like everyone else.

Everyone has a hand in his pocket, from the government to the league to the gardener. Throw in any ex-wives and child support and no matter how much they’re paid - It goes fast!

Just like everybody else - just on a different scale.

The most important part of this argument isn’t even the money. It’s the idea that Dan Ellis learned a hard lesson that hopefully won’t cause others to steer clear of the Twitter line of communication. Because the fans will be the ones to lose out.


Jeannie Moon said...

Wow. That was an interesting post. Thanks for all the number crunching.

dandbradleyETG said...

Florida doesn't have a state income tax, but their property taxes and homeowners insurance are pretty rough. I was glad to leave.

Yeah, I poked at Danny boy quite hard regarding his tweets, but anyone who was "offended" needs to get some thicker skin. All people have problems. His problems are minor compared to people about to be foreclosed on, but to his situation they're a concern. Yes, it's funny, but it shouldn't be offensive.

If it did offend you, why are you on twitter to begin with. This is a luxury.