Spectator sports is very popular everywhere in the world. In Malaysia, the most popular one is football or soccer. Tennis and basketball are sports that have worldwide appeal. Fans are willing to pay a lot of money to see high quality sports. Thus, there has developed in the most popular sports a group of athletes known as professional sportsmen. They are paid for playing in a team. Their payments are not paltry sums.
Professional sports is a very big business, and these sportsmen can demand very high salaries depending on how good and how popular they are. The best professional sportsmen in the United States are reported to be paid salaries that run into millions of dollars. There has been criticism that professional sportsmen are more interested in making money than playing the game. I do not agree with this criticism because of the very nature of their job, which is playing in a sporting team.
To become a professional, you have to be the best talent available. Sports is a game where you cannot fake your ability. You must have natural talent and normally people who are highly talented in their field love what they are doing. A sportsman has to have passion and drive for his sports, or else his lack of enthusiasm will show in his performance.
Besides, professional sports is a public game. When the sportsman does not perform well, his failure is seen by thousands, even millions of stadium and television viewers as in the case of football and badminton in Malaysia. Everyone from the man in the street to the newspaper sports writer will discuss his poor performance. Thus, every time a professional sportsman does not show interest in playing the game, his career is jeopardized.
We must also remember that professional sportsmen have a short career as it is based on his physical strength and agility. A sportsman hits his prime in his 20’s and by the time he is about 35 years old, his career is over. While in their prime, many of them try to make as much money as they can. Some make additional money by appearing in advertisements or promoting merchandise bearing their names. I do not think there is anything wrong with this. After all, their popularity and ability to make money this way depend on their reputation as a sportsman
Due to the demand for their talent, professional sportsmen are highly paid. But the money they make is tightly linked to their ability to play the game. They cannot afford to be more interested in making money than in playing the game. If they slip in their performance as professional sportsmen, their career will soon be over.