The Department of the Treasury today announced the creation of a
new currency designed especially for professional athletes. The
money, called athlodollars, will be put into service immediately
in an effort to stem a recent inflationary spiral caused by the
routine signing of jocks to nine-figure contracts.
"We had to do something," Secretary of the Treasury Robert E.
Rubin said in a press conference. "The wages and salaries in pro
sports had gotten so surreal, so out of whack--culminating with
the $125 million payoff this week to Kevin Garnett, that
21-year-old kid on the Minnesota Timberwolves--that our monetary
system was in danger of collapse."
The new currency, featuring a picture of Garnett on the $1,000
bill, a picture of Albert Belle on the $5,000, Tiger Woods on
the $10,000, Michael Jordan on the $20,000 and Jim McIlvaine on
the $50,000, will be distributed to all pro teams in America. It
will be the only money the teams will be allowed to pay the
players in and the only money the players will be allowed to
earn--unless they also find a real job for real money.
The athlodollar will be valued at 10% of standard U.S. currency.
This will mean that Garnett's six-year contract will be worth
only $12.5 million in actual buying power. Rubin pointed out
that this still was a lot of money for "someone who really
hasn't won a damn thing yet."
"It all goes back to the values we place on contributions to our
society," President Clinton said in a statement read at the
White House. "Should a man who can stick a tough, turn-around J
in the middle of traffic be rewarded so much more than a man who
spends a lifetime teaching our children or caring for our
elderly or our sick?"
Reaction to the new currency by athletes and their agents and
union chiefs was uniformly negative. In Houston, Rockets forward
Charles Barkley had to be pulled off a Treasury agent he had
grabbed by the throat and was holding off a balcony at the
Summit. In Green Bay every member of the world champion Packers
wore a black ribbon in practice to protest what quarterback
Brett Favre called "the end to the American Dream of getting all
you can whenever you can." At various baseball playoff sites,
major leaguers pondered union head Don Fehr's proposal to play
only 10% of each postseason game, after which they would sit
down in the field and at the plate. No immediate action was
taken by the players.
Team and league officials in all sports, fearing reprisals from
their stars and superstars if they expressed their joy at the
move, issued a series of no comments. However, one unidentified
NBA owner, close to bankruptcy and pleading for a new arena with
luxury boxes to help meet his payroll, added, "It serves the
money-grubbing bastards right."
Treasury Department officials declined to comment on reports
that other currencies--entrodollars for entertainers,
corprodollars for high-ranking corporate executives and
journodollars for television-news anchors--soon will be
released. The officials did stress that neither the athlodollar
nor any of the other possible changes would have any noticeable
effect on "the rest of us."