In a free world, the price of anything is a reflection of its true worth to people. Something is valued high if it is important to a lot of people. It is valued low if its not so important - OK you can quibble about supply and demand, but in the end, value is a reflection of the worth in which people hold it.
What can you then make of the "fight of the century" that is taking place on May 2nd. Floyd Mayweather versus Manny Pacquiao. A fight between two of the finest boxers of their generation. The usual outlandish hype and outrageous build up , that is predictable for every major boxing match, is on display in ample measure. Where else will it be held, but in the most over the top place on earth - Las Vegas. I don't know about the "fight of the century", but it certainly is the richest fight in history.
Each boxer is expected to make upwards of $ 100 million for the fight. Yes, one hundred million dollars. Perhaps nearer $ 150 m. To give you a perspective, the next highest paid sportsman in the world - Cristiano Ronaldo - makes $ 80m in a year. The highest paid CEO of any company in the world , Charif Souki of Cheniere Energy Inc made $ 142 million in a year. And these two boxers are going to make probably $100-$150 m for one fight.
Of all the revenue streams, the biggest will be pay per view subscription for watching the bout on TV. The price just for watching the one fight is likely to be $ 90. Ninety dollars for sitting on your couch to watch a max of 12 rounds. 3 million Americans are expected to sign up.
There is nothing in the sporting world, in any sport, that can remotely match the earnings of this fight. Come to think of it, there is nothing in any field of human endeavour that came come close to this level of money. Let us assume that the bout will last an hour (it could even last 3 seconds but we'll be charitable). That's a gross revenue of $ 500 m in one hour. Walmart the largest company in the world, in comparison makes a measly $50 m in an hour. Yes, I know this is not a sensible comparison, but you get my point. Mankind places the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight as the most valuable of all human endeavour to be done in an hour. Ever.
I am not a great boxing fan, but I do know a bit about it. Both Mayweather and Pacquiao are past their prime. Mayweather is 38, Pacquiao is 36. They were great boxers, but the past tense is probably right. Both are larger than life certainly. Pacquiao, in his native Philippines, is probably second only to God. But from a purely sporting perspective, its not even the finest boxing bout ever, leave alone the greatest sporting spectacle of all time.
I know that many readers , including this good friend, will argue that boxing is not a sport at all and should simply be banned. Certainly public interest in boxing is declining, but other forms of entertainment which involves one guy trying to beat the hell out of another , like martial arts, kick boxing and , with apologies to God, WWF are all booming. I won't pass judgements on tastes of people, but it does strike me as a little odd that human society places the greatest value of all in two ageing fighters trying to knock each other down.
I have long had a dilemma on this matter of the value society places on different occupations. Ask anybody what are the professions which they consider most valuable to society and you are likely to get answers like teachers, nurses, etc. Ask them the professions that they detest and you would probably get bankers as the answer. And yet, look at the where we place monetary value.
Doesn't it say something about us all.