Voice Up: Are athletes overpaid?

Matthew Arena and Mike Gregory, Social Media Manager and Sports Editor

When basketball player Stephen Curry signed a new contract with the Golden State Warriors in 2017, jaws dropped at his salary: a whopping $201 million over five years. That’s about $40 million a year—one of the highest annual salaries in team sports. The National Basketball Association (NBA.), the National Football League (NFL), and Major League Baseball (MLB.) are the three biggest sports organizations in the U.S. They reap billions of dollars every year from TV deals and merchandise and ticket sales. Other salaries such as police officers, doctors, and surgeons are discussed as ones that are underpaid compared to the athletes. The top players in these leagues earn huge salaries that most Americans can only dream of. Are pro athletes overpaid? Two sportswriters weigh in. Time to Voice Up.

Pay the people who get the athletes onto the field

Matthew Arena

In what world does it make sense that someone who throws a football for a living is paid more than 700 times as much as someone who helps saves peoples lives, or that swinging a bat gets you nearly 650 times as much as educating kids? In my opinion, it does not.

By no means are we downgrading the work that athletes put in on a daily basis, and this is not the athlete’s fault that the industry brings in so much money; however, it is ridiculous that the people who get the athletes onto the fields don’t get paid a snib bit of what the athletes do.

Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout is getting paid $36,000,000 per year, an average of around $250,000 per game, which is an income almost anyone would like to make each year. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average salary of a surgeon was $255,110 per year in 2018.

Those who support the high salaries of athletes site the fact that they do provide entertainment to people all around the country. Some note that the high salaries of those in the entertainment industry are proportionate to their profits. Since fans are willing to pay high prices for game tickets, jerseys, and more, sports’ leagues make enough to justify the players’ salaries.

However, there are many people who contribute to athletic events that could be paid more if the athletes did
not get paid so much. These include groundskeepers, concession workers, security guards, trainers, announcers, and hundreds of other employees who work the events. How much, for example, does the worker in the factory that produces the jerseys make? The maintenance staff who cleans the stadium after games? If the sports’ industry makes incredible profits, those profits should be shared by everyone involved, not heaped solely on the athletes.

Some people also argue that athletes spend their whole lives sacrificing, working, and training explicitly to perform the sports that everyone loves to watch. Some note that athletes have a short time that they can play professionally before their body is no longer competitive, so they need to make a lot of money to last them.

However, even if they do go through a lot of training and hard work to perfect their craft, it still does not compare to the money and years, or even decades, that other professions, such as doctors, go through just to get to the first step of their careers. A typical doctor has student loans that average $166,750, according to CBS News. They spend between 11 and 15 years meeting the requirements to be a doctor. In contrast, the average career lengths of professional athletes,
according to the Bleacher Report, are 3.5 years for the NFL, 4.8 for the NBA, and 5.8 for MLB. By the time a high-paid player is finished working for his lifetime, with millions to show for it, a doctor still has ten years of education left, a mountain of student loans, and decades of work ahead–likely never earning what that athlete did in a few short years.

The athletes should get the money they deserve

Mike Gregory

It doesn’t make sense that backup Quarterbacks make more money than doctors and surgeons.

first it might seem like this is true, but when the numbers are broken down, it’s pretty clear that athletes are not overpaid. Professional sports is one of the most profitable businesses on the planet. Between ticket sales, merchandise, advertising, radio, and television, professional sports leagues bring in a boatload of money.

Each NBA team is valued at around $1 billion, and last season, the league brought in over $8 billion in revenue.
In the 2018 season, the average salary for an NBA player was $6.2 million (ESPN), which almost seems low considering the amount of money the league brings in. Similar can be said about the NFL, MLB, and NHL, which are other leagues who bring in a ton of money every year.

Don’t be mistaken, being an athlete is no easy job.

Athletes often put in over 40 hours of work per week practicing, studying film, working out, and playing games. On top of this, they are putting their careers on the line every time they go to work, as an injury can drastically alter an athlete’s career. This risk is not present in most conventional jobs.

Of course to many people the concept of somebody being paid $20 million to swing a bat or throw a ball doesn’t make much sense. The difficulty of becoming a professional athlete is often forgotten when analyzing whether or not these athletes are overpaid.

To put things into perspective, there are currently 1,093,234 high school football players in America, yet only 255 of those players will be drafted in the NFL. There are 541,054 male high school Basketball players, yet only 47 of those ballers will be drafted in the NBA, according to the Business Insider. On top of this, a large portion of players who get drafted don’t last in the pros, as the average NFL career is 3.3 years and the average NBA career is 4.5 years.

Also, think about who’d get the money if the athletes made less. Lower salaries wouldn’t necessarily lead to lower ticket and hot dog prices for fans who go to the games. The billionaire owners of the NFL, MLB, and NBA teams would likely pocket the difference. Do we really want the greedy billionaire owners to benefit from the hardworking athletes losing money?

It’s almost impossible to become a successful professional athlete, and the ones who do make it to the top contribute a great deal to the massive revenue that pro sports leagues generate. It is not unreasonable that dominant players such as Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, or Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout are getting paid hundreds of millions of dollars.

Athletes deserve their piece of the multi-billion dollar pie that is the pro sports industry, and athletes should continue to reap the benefits of their unique and rare athletic abilities.