pro athelete salaries
Athletes are Not Overpaid
According to Rovell and Rafael (1), “Floyd Mayweather will earn almost as much for 36 minutes in the ring in May as Tim Duncan has made in his 18-year career with the San Antonio Spurs ($235 million)”. For starters, Tim Duncan is a professional basketball player and Mayweather is a professional boxer. The above statement was in reference to the Mayweather-Pacquiao boxing match that was predicted to rake in around $500 million in revenues. According to Warner (1), the President of the United States of America, currently Barack Obama, earns an annual base salary of $400,000. As such, the huge salaries that are raked in by sports stars have become a considerable item of discussion with some people being of the opinion that professional athletes are overpaid. For example, some professional soccer players in major leagues in Europe will rake as much as $300,000 a week in wages. They might have at most two matches to play in a week. The transfer market has also witnessed a high valuation of players with some being valued at amounts in the excess of $100 million dollars. So are they worth it? Professional athletes are worth every penny paid to them.
Athletes Deserve Pay
Commercially, professional athletes deserve all the monies that are paid to them. The professional sports industry can be regarded as a multi-billion dollar industry that rakes in lots of money from ticket sales, radio and television deals, merchandise sales and advertising. It is one of the most profitable businesses globally. Most professional sport entities are privately owned and therefore need not open their books to the public. According to Stein (1), “Canadian football teams can generate around $2.2 billion a year in revenues while their American counterparts can generate 10-15 times that amount given their bigger stadiums, more sports fans and more television time”. From this, it means that American football teams can make as much as $20-40 billion a year in revenues. Therefore, it goes without saying that players who help in attracting fans to their television sets, computers, radio and to fill the stadia deserve a piece of these revenues. The same players help these sports teams sell apparels and jerseys meaning that they are the main contributing factor to the huge revenues and sales.
According to Ator (1), $677,647 is the median salary a year for players in the NFL. This is not much considering the amount of money that NFL teams make annually. At the same time, the context of athlete salaries is very different from the context of jobs in other sectors such as banking, medicine, technology and education. Professional athletes put in a lot of hours, sometimes more than regular office jobs, in practicing, studying, working out and the actual playing time. Professional athletes also have to contend with being away from their normal lives. For example, an Argentinean football player will spend much of his youth playing football in Europe. He will have to sacrifice the convenience of being close to his family, friends and neighborhood. Players will also be traveling from time to time playing and spending nights in hotels. Therefore, these players are taken out the comfort zones, which can be thought of as some hardship. While the high salaries can be some form of consolation, they still cannot compensate for the distraction in these player’s social lives.
Professional athletes also run the risk of injury. Their job description is to offer audiences and fans excitement, which at times comes at a very heavy price. From tackles in soccer, touchdowns in American football, scrum downs in rugby or punches in boxing, “athletes are constantly putting their bodies on the line in order to offer excitement and victory for their respective teams (shareholders and owners) and fans” (Stein 1). In the process, some sustain career and even life-threatening injuries. Some suffer broken bones. For example, just recently, Manchester United’s Luke Shaw suffered a broken leg during his team’s match against PSV Eindhoven in the Champions League. Other players to have broken their legs include Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) and Djibril Cisse who has broken his leg twice when playing for club and country. Recently, Tiger Woods had a strain on his back that has kept him on Golf’s sidelines. Jules Bianchi died as a result of injuries sustained from the Formula One Championships. Cameroon’s Marc Vivien Foe collapsed and died on the pitch while playing soccer. As such, it is difficult to value the amount of work, effort and sacrifice that professional athletes provide. Their huge salaries cannot even undo some of the dangers associated with their careers.
Careers in professional sports are not permanent. First, they are in contractual times averaging mostly four years. Second, an athlete can only be active in his or her career for a few years. For example, many athletes are active between their teenage years and mid-thirties. This is unlike conventional jobs where retirement age can be as high as 60 or 70 years depending on the profession. As such, the high wages are justified so that professional athletes can be able to undertake sound investments that will see them have good lives long after they have retired from their professional sports. According to Ator (2), “a few millions in the bank can ease the uncertainty that the future of pro athletes face in the event of retirement from sports”. Also, pro athletes do not enjoy the security of tenure in their careers. One time an athlete is at his peak, the other time his or her form dips. In European football, stars such as Wayne Rooney have been fading despite their form in previous years. The fans are unforgiving either. Once a player doesn’t deliver the results they desire, they start booing them and calling for the player’s exit. The clubs’ management structures do not have much of a choice other than releasing the players. Therefore, high wages are usually based on performance and do not last forever, hence when they deserve, let them be paid as much as possible because it lasts only a short time.
However, some people will argue that athletes are paid just too much money. Mueller (1) observes that “at a time when many people are struggling with loan payments and mortgage payments, it can be quite frustrating to hear someone making millions by just playing a sport.” For example, the lowest paid NFL player in 2011 pocketed $330,000. The highest paid doctor gets about $500,000 a year, a lawyer about $170,000 a year and an astronaut about $107000 a year (Mueller 1). These are professionals who have undergone years of education and training so that they can be experts in their respective fields. However, a person who just chases after a soccer ball gets to earn more in a week than a lawyer earns in a year. Some even argue that overpaying athletes are killing the “more important” careers that contribute greatly to humanity. These are careers such as banking, medicine and engineering. This is because most of the young people will be attracted to sporting activities rather than education. However, these arguments fail to recognize that sport is not an occupation, but rather a source of income that does not come with the benefits that traditional careers offer. The context of sport careers justifies high wages given their lifespan, environment and uncertainty.
Debate continues to rage whether to reward educational content or body talent more. The truth of the matter is that athletes put their bodies in the line action. They can be likened to infantry soldiers. They sweat and get injured just to give millions of fans some excitement while filling the pockets of sport investors. Professional athletes are an inspiration to many people. Their hard work and subsequent success inspire young people to try and achieve their best. Sport also rewards those who do not have the privilege of acquiring a formal education by giving them a chance to exploit their talents for a better life. Big corporations such as Samsung, Nike, Rolex also exploit the fame of athletes to their economic benefit. An objective analysis indicates that professional athletes give much more than they receive. Therefore, given the context and environment under which professional athletes ply their trade, their pay cannot be termed as too high, but is rather reasonable and justified earning.
Stein, Dan. Why Pro Athletes Aren’t Paid Too Much. Bleacher Report, 9 Sep. 2008. Web. 29 Oct. 2015.
Ator, Paul. 6 Reasons Why Pro Athletes Are Not Overpaid. What Culture, 8 Nov. 2013. Web. 29 Oct.2015.
Mueller, Chris. Two Sides to Every Coin: Are Professional Athletes Overpaid. Bleacher Report, 4 Mar. 2012. Web. 29 Oct. 2015.
Rovell, Darren and Rafael, Dan. Payday: Floyd Mayweather to Make at Least $220m from Pacquiao Fight. ESPN, 7 Feb. 2015. Web. 29 Oct, 2015.
Warner, Brian. How Much Does the President Make? Celebrity Net Worth, 20 Jan. 2015. Web. 29 Oct. 2015.