I am a Boston Celtics fan and I have been since I was a youth during the rather wonderful season that was 1981. I had the joy of going to see the Celtics play regularly in the Boston Garden back when fans could arrive early and, if they thought about it, walk on the parquet floor during pre-game warm-ups (as long as we did not interfere with the players). I still have a great stack of photos (somewhere) that I took of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parrish and the rest of the great teams from the mid-1980’s.
I even got to see several playoff games during the Celtics championship years in 1984 and 1986. I had to pay for the tickets, but my manager at the store where I worked sold me tickets at face value. I think I paid about $14 per ticket.
This year my Celtics played against the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals. I wanted to take my son to see a game but when I checked the ticket prices, I was shocked and dismayed to see that some tickets cost as much as $2,000. Even the least expensive tickets were more than I wanted to pay, especially for the worst seats in the arena.
That got me thinking, if I could afford to pay $4,000 for a pair of tickets to a sporting event, would I? The answer of course, is a resounding “Not on your life!” To do so would be an obscene extravagance. Even if I could afford it, I hope that I would feel too guilty to ever consider doing it. With $4,000, I could put a lot of kids into seats for a regular season game. That would make me feel a lot better about spending the money and it would ensure that more people enjoyed a game of basketball.
There are so many extravagances that I cannot really understand. When I see people wearing Rolex watches, I don’t get it. When I see someone driving a Ferrari, I assume that the driver is compensating for some other inadequacy. The products are nice, but what do the owners really get out of them other than some perception of status?
Now, don’t assume that I am in favor of wealth redistribution, because I am not. I am not suggesting that people with available funds should not be allowed to shower themselves in luxury. I do have to wonder, however, whether people who are fortunate enough to have fabulous wealth really experience any improvement in their quality of life just because they are surrounded by luxury. I would think that the security of having wealth would define the value of having it.
If I won the Powerball Lottery, I would certainly surround myself and, more importantly, my family, in comfort, but I hope I would not cross the line from comfort into ostentatious luxury. Indeed, for me the great luxury would probably be wearing a brand new pair of socks every day. When I look at all of the things that I would like to buy, the only recurring luxury is the notion that my step would have the spring of wearing new socks each and every day! At the same time, there are a lot of charities that I would love to support and there are a lot of charitable objectives that I would like to pursue. Moreover, buying $2,000 tickets to a sporting event that I can watch on TV certainly would not be high on my list of things to do.
What would you do with a huge lottery jackpot? Would you purchase luxuries? Try to help others? Support your family and friends? Give up your job? What luxuries do you see other people purchase, only to leave you wondering what kind of values they have?