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Article posted: 3/26/2013 5:37 AM

Athletes, fans just look at things differently

By Mike Imrem

Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane became the latest person to comment on whether Bulls point guard Derrick Rose should return to play this season on a surgically repaired knee.

That leaves only a few people on the planet who haven't given an opinion on the subject.

Two of them are the current pope and the previous pope, both of whom likely are too busy praying for Rose. Another is the president of Florida Gulf Coast University, who is too busy texting other college presidents saying, "We're in the Sweet Sixteen and you're not." Another is the last sheep herder in New Zealand without ESPN.

Otherwise, all precincts have been heard from concerning Rose.

Kane, an NHL most valuable player candidate this season, reportedly said Monday that Rose should sit out the rest of this season for the long-term well-being of both him and the Bulls.

Many agree. Others like me believe Rose, weeks ago cleared to play, should have already played at least a couple of games to continue the rehabilitation process.

It became clear to me long ago that athletes aren't like us and we aren't like them.

We go to work for something like 40 or 50 hours a week for something like 40 or 50 years, hopefully are able to pay this month's bills, save a few thousand dollars for emergencies and in retirement rely on Social Security to feed our goldfish.

Big-time athletes like Kane and Rose have a different perspective. They go to work for anywhere from 16 games to 82 games to 162 games a year, do it for a decade or so, are paid more in a year than we are in a lifetime, walk away with millions of dollars and ultimately in retirement use their pension plans to feed their strings of polo ponies.

As much time as I have spent around these basketball, hockey, football and baseball players, I never pretend to be able to relate to them, and a good guess is that most working stiffs can't.

We don't have long-term contracts. We don't have annual salaries ranging from the collectively bargained minimum of a few hundred thousand dollars to the individually negotiated tens of millions of dollars.

But we do have advantages like being able to work at what we do best longer than they do. We get to eat at Denny's with nobody bothering us while they have to hide out in VIP areas just to have a quiet sip of champagne. We can make financial decisions without being pestered by downtown CPAs, stockbrokers, lawyers, portfolio managers and money launderers.

Athletes and fans live in different worlds. Many of them reside in gated communities to protect them from jewel thieves and some of their worshippers have steel bars on bedroom windows to protect them from petty thieves.

That explains why the thinking varies so much on what Derrick Rose should do.

Many athletes tend to believe that Rose, with so few working years to expand his approximate net worth of $400 million, should be cautious about jeopardizing his future.

Many common folk believe Rose should do what they have to do, which is get back into the office or the factory or the farm fields and help the people with whom they normally work with to get the job done.

So they aren't like us, we aren't like them, and it would be interesting to know whether Derrick Rose's predicament ever is discussed at the Vatican.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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