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Professional Athletes' Salaries

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Professional Athletes and Their Salaries

To quote my father: “I can’t believe that he makes that much more than me. It’s just not fair. That money could go to people who really need it; and if nobody else, me!” How many times have people been angry because many professional athletes make more in a season of sport than most other members of society will make in their entire lives? The correct answer: far too many times. When those members of society analyze the paychecks of professional athletes, they usually let jealousy cloud their judgment and jump to the conclusion that the numbers they see are outrageous. In reality, those numbers are fair: those athletes deserve all the money they receive.

Immediately the argument is proposed… There are plenty of professions out there that are more important to society than what athletes do: teacher, doctor, policeman, and fireman to name a few. How can an athlete’s salary be justified when compared to these everyday heroes’? It seems that the only argument ever to really present itself against the statement “professional athletes deserve their pay” has to do with a comparison to other jobs. And that’s where those arguing “no” give themselves no room to think. Take the argument to its logical roots and it’ll be a society where people performing jobs “most important” are paid the most, and our entertainers paid much less. Ignorance of the difference between economic worth and social value is why that logic doesn’t work.

Those who say that a teacher is more important to society than an athlete are comparing apple to orange, or, more appropriately, water to gold. What does an athlete's compensation to society have to do with a teacher’s? Do teachers make the money they do because athletes deny them their money? Nothing; no. Athletes are paid in comparison to what their profession brings in for the economy – and that’s talking about money. Economy is money. Economy is not “Well, the teachers are important, so let’s pay those more.” Bottom line: teachers make what they do because schools are a cost to society. On the contrary, the sports industry brings in billions upon billions in revenue every year – and again that is talking about money. Taxes pay for the schools we have, but sports pay for themselves along with so much leftover, the salaries the “entertainers” earn are pennies to the dollar. Just because private school teachers make more than a public school teacher, does that make them more important? No, it means the private school has money to give to teachers. The same concept goes to the sports industry with their players, only with more zeros.

Let me give an example of that revenue stream: the Super Bowl. Any idea what the Super Bowl harvests for a profit each year? Ticket sales collected about $60 million for Super Bowl XLII. Ads for the same game brought in almost $3 million per 30 second commercial, for a total of about $275 million in that area. In 2007, it was estimated by the CEA (Consumer Electronics Association) that the Super Bowl generated some $2.2 billion in sales of HDTVs. In the week leading up to Super Bowl XLI, 73 popular categories of food and beverage had a combined $261 million boost in sales, as told by research from the Nielson Company. When Tempe, Arizona, hosted the Super Bowl in 1996, economists at the Arizona State University College of Business estimated that the big game had an economic impact of a $306 million spread across local industries. That same event created 6,100 jobs, and state and local tax revenues were up $27 million. Saints players only took home about $83000 each for starring in and winning Super Bowl XLIV, and that’s the highest it’s ever been. It seems quite fair.

I am not going to argue that an athlete entertaining is more important to humanity than a doctor saving lives – it would be near impossible. But this goes back to the difference between economic worth and social value. An ounce of gold can fetch over $1000; over 1500 gallons of water fetch the same price. Gold is a luxury; water is a necessity. Is that being clear? While water is one of the most valuable things for sustaining human life, it is cheap. Nobody absolutely needs gold, and it is very expensive. Water is to the social value of those teachers and doctors and firemen and policemen while gold is to the economic worth of professional athletes. It is supply and demand, and it’s fair. Mr. John Fan pays for his ticket, his hat, his hot-dog, his jersey, his autograph, so Mr. John Fan pays the sports industry, which pays the athlete their fair share of the profit.

Accept it or not, in a free market economy like ours, a person’s wealth and the wages they are paid are in direct relation to the economic worth of that person’s profession. Professional athletes are selling their product – entertainment – and we are buying it. If there’s a problem with our capitalist society, by all means it should be fixed, and until then society wants to pay what it does to see what it sees in sports – and that’s the players. Professional athletes deserve what they are paid. It all comes down to dollars and cents in the end. If someone would be willing to come out with an argument that isn’t so tinted by jealousy and personal principles, I’d be willing to discuss those numbers.




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This article has 3 comments. Post your own!

Ken W. said...
Jul. 16, 2012 at 1:40 pm:

Maybe...

What I think is more important to conclude is how few gets to the level of professional athletes, and the only eliete of them get paid that much. Most in the Minor Leagues, for example, do not get paid redicilous sums.

That is the same for managers (of a company)

 
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Mickey98 said...
Oct. 26, 2011 at 1:48 pm:
I do not agree that athletes deserve what they are paid. They just take what they are given or expect to be offered a bigger amount. They act like money is such a great big deal to have. But once they get it they dont know what to do with it. They COULD be giving the money to somebody else that deserves it. Donate it to charity or something.
 
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11coreya said...
Mar. 9, 2010 at 2:04 pm:
exactly right. proffesional athletes may not be working towards society and there job does not seem to be as difficult but it is. everyone had the chance when born to grow up and become whatever they want. athletes have the weight of their city on their shoulders and without their salaries the owners would make even more ridiculous amounts which would lead to more controversy
 
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