It's not often that professional sports and politics rub elbows in any significant way.
And I like it that way, because in those rare times when sports and politics do mix, it usually turns into a disaster for sports.
Look no further than the congressional hearings for Major League Baseball, having to do with performance-enhancing drug use by baseball players, to see my point. It was a bad deal for baseball.
There are exceptions, of course, but in general, I don't believe even the smartest or best-informed professional athlete knows more -- and possibly a lot less -- than does the average American when it comes to politics.
Even though athletes are entitled to their opinions -- and I gladly listen when they offer -- I usually wish they'd reserve their public comments for something they might actually know something about. Their own sport, for example.
Phil Mickelson, the professional golfer, broke that rule this week.
I have to admit I don't like it much when richy-rich professional athletes and entertainers -- in fact, the rich period -- whine and complain about having to pay taxes on their incomes, investments and material possessions.
Frankly, I think it's the least they should do, given the extent of their wealth.
They should be happy with the amount of money they have left over after taxes, which is always a darned sight more than the national median income of about $41,000.
For what? Playing a game.
So, yes, it did sound a lot like whining to me when Mickelson -- he earned between $45 million and $60 million last year, depending on whether you believe published reports by Golf Digest or Sports Illustrated, respectively -- said earlier this week he was considering a move out of California because the state income taxes were too high.
Mickelson thinks it's a little much that more than half of his income disappears via taxes. He says it's around 62 percent, but several tax experts say it's probably closer to 53 percent.
Either, to my way of thinking, is highway robbery. So I don't blame Mickelson for having a sour taste in his mouth about the high cost of paying taxes.
Hey, I don't earn anywhere near what Mickelson does, and I don't like the amount of taxes I'm paying, either.
But I do wish he didn't complain about it out loud, considering he'd be left with more than $24 million after taxes in a normal year. I think he should be able to live quite nicely on that amount of money.
After his remarks created a bit of a firestorm earlier this week, Mickelson wisely apologized for his statement.
Anyway, I did a little research on the subject and found there are nine states in this country that don't charge any personal income tax. They are: Texas, Florida, Washington, Nevada, New Hampshire, Tennessee, South Dakota, Wyoming and Alaska. Louisiana is talking about it.
The 10 worst states in the country for personal income taxes are, in order: New York, Hawaii, California, Oregon, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Maine, Vermont, Minnesota and Delaware. And Pennsylvania follows closely behind.
Mickelson lives in California, where the personal income tax rate jumped 3 percent following passage of Proposition 30 in 2012, going from 10.3 percent to 13.3 percent for everyone earning more than $1 million.
When it comes down to it, that's about the only tax break Mickelson would get by moving from California to, say, Texas or Florida, because there are certain income-related taxes he'd have to pay no matter where he lived.
But in his case, it would amount to a savings of about $6 million a year on state income taxes alone.
So I understand his angst.
It really doesn't have anything to do with how much money he earns. It's the principle of the thing. I understand that.
He's trying to do what's best for himself and his family.
I understand that, too.
When it comes right down to it, a move is probably called for.
Join Tiger Woods in Florida. Or Texas.
Just do it quietly. No muss, no fuss.
And keep the focus on golf.
It's what Mickelson knows best.
Sports columns by Larry A. Hicks, Dispatch columnist, run Thurs days. E-mail: lhick firstname.lastname@example.org.