No suspense about why the SEC is the leading college football conference: money. The lowest paid head coach in the conference still makes more than $2 million annually. Some SEC assistant coaches make that much. My team, Georgia, will have no less than four assistant coaches making over one million dollars for the year if bonuses are scored. It’s old news that any of those four will be paid more than the university’s president. The head coach will make many times as much as the president.
This, brethren and sistren, is cold, hard capitalism. College football in the SEC fills enormous stadiums at premium prices and gathers huge donations from their fan base. It’s the way things work. You want championships, you max out ticket prices, donations, coaching salaries, and athletic facilities. There’s a reason pastors, nurses and school teachers make less than 1% of what the UGA head coach makes – because people are willing to pay enormous sums to watch football. If you as a pastor can fill huge arenas, maybe you will get a pay raise.
I grew up within hearing distance of Sanford Stadium, where the Dawgs play (we knew how to spell back then, too, “dogs” not “dawgs”). I’ve attended games for over sixty years. Locals like me can still score tickets every now and then although I am perfectly satisfied to stay at home and watch on television. When I’m in town on business, I sometimes take a brisk walk across campus where one of the stadium gates is left unlocked so the hoi polloi can catch a view of the place. It’s magnificent even if only used a dozen or so times each year.
UGA has a tiered system for tickets and preferred seating. Six figure annual gifts will get you in some elite clubs, seating, lounges, meet-and-greets with the AA, head coach, and president. Chumps that pay the minimum get a ticket, probably in the stratosphere with the sun in their eyes. The stadium is oriented east-west. Naturally, for the former confederate state, the south side is the preferred, or shady side. And the minimum required donations to keep your seat goes up.” Charge what the market will bear” is the operative phrase. Some longtime fans and supporters in club level seats are now being booted to ordinary stadium seating with the vulgar masses because they can’t keep up with the increases in minimum required donations.
That’s the way it works. It’s not going to change.
Which brings me to your fine church which has a certain number of “giving units,” donors, supporters, and contributors. While you as pastor probably know who the big givers are, you ought to be deliberately ignorant in regard to giving records. I never, not once, checked any member’s giving levels. Nor did I consciously treat any member or attendee different because of how much, or little, they gave. Seems Jesus told a story about that.
On more than one occasion, I had to straighten out some messes that involved money and the church. This involved in one instance reassigning some volunteers. One volunteer got upset and in a private conversation reminded me how much her family gave to the church. She gave me a dollar figure. I knew it was high but was a little surprised at how high it was.
Well, that was a moment of truth about her, money, the church, and me. I put my arm around her and said, “[Sister], I love you and appreciate you and what you do in our church. I’d feel the same about you if you give small amounts or enormous sums. You do exactly what the Lord wants you to do, no more, no less, and I’ll be satisfied with that.” The thing was smoothed over. I suppose that if the pastor has a keen ear in the church where money talks louder than other things, he is in for some difficulty, certainly from the Lord.
I hear, though, that some churches tout high giving members. I hear that some churches do product placement from the pulpit for some elite givers who own local businesses. I hear some pastors provide different levels of pastoral care and ministry to elite members. Money, I read in Scripture, is a root of all kinds of evil. Truth.
For perspective, the University of Georgia athletic association annual budget is considerably more than our North American Mission Board budget. I’m satisfied, though, that NAMB does better work. In the long haul who will care which team pushed more oblate spheroids across chalk lines over the span of an hour?
In football it’s all about money. That’s why the SEC will excel.
The UGA Athletic Association is a public organization that operates on non-tax revenues. Students pay a small fee that goes to the AA. Salaries and spending are public information which is how I know how much the head coach makes. UGA ticket prices are the highest in college football this year, $487 for seven games but you have to make donations above that to get season tickets. I’ve bought single game tickets for $10-20 on the street before some games. Think about that for the Murray State game, not the Notre Dame game.