Every year we hear about how some new professional athlete just signed a contract worth a record amount of money . Then the same next year we hear about how another athlete is signing a new contract worth even more than before. In fact, most professional sports minimum salaries are over $100,000 per year. And furthermore, the entire “game” has become corporate, and seems to no longer hold any value in society.
Professional athletes are making too much money in a society that’s salaries and wages are traditionally based on the value of ones work.
Whose fault is it that these athletes make these huge salaries? According to most people you ask, it is societies fault. It is the fans’ fault. And that is right. We are the ones who go to these sporting events and pay $50 for a ticket, and $100 for a jacket, and $20 for a hat. We are the ones who support these professional sporting teams, and in turn the players.
The reason these ticket prices go up constantly are partly because they need to make more money to pay for our favorite stars, but mostly because they know, no matter how much, the fans will pay it. If everyone was to stop supporting their favorite team by not going to the games, or by not buying the jackets, or by not watching them on television, do you think the salaries would start to decrease? Yes they would. Nobody is going to get paid $100 million dollars if the money is not there for him to be paid with.
According to Marshall Burrow, Michael Jordan made 33 million dollars a year, and another 40 million a year in endorsements. (Do Sports Players get Paid too Much so Ticket Prices Go Up). This is equivalent to about $170,000 a day. Is anyone worth $170,000 a day? In my opinion, Jordan’s salary is not at all reflective of his value in society. To put this in perspective: the president of the United States makes $250,000 a year, whereas this basketball player brings almost that much home each day. On the other hand, professional athletics is a business.
And like any businessman, these athletes want the highest salary that they can get. However, this is not what professional athletics was originally intended to be. Athletes used to play these games for the joy of it, but this does not seem to be the case today. Everyday it becomes more and more like a business and less and less like a game, which is simply what it is. Since Jordan is maybe the most famous and the highest paid professional athlete of all time I will use him for a few more examples.
According to Forbes magazine, in 1996 Michael Jordan made 31. million dollars solely in salary. (It’s a Whole New Ball Game). Jordan also made another 47 million in endorsements that year for a grand total of 78. 3 million dollars in 1 year. Doesn‘t seem too bad for playing some basketball, making a commercial or two, and allowing a few companies to put his face near their product. In fact, according to authors of “Forbes” magazine, Richard O’Brien and Hank Hersch, in that same 1996 season, Michael Jordan played 3,106 minutes of basketball and that equaled out to $160. 97 per second. These figures seem out of control, but they are true.
Even more amazing were Mike Tyson’s earnings. Tyson made 281,000 dollars a second in a single match against Peter McNeeley. In a society where a salary is traditionally determined by the value of a persons work, these figures do not seem reasonable or fair. An argument made on the other side has to do with the number of athletes receiving this much money. Zachary M. Jones, an attorney at Howard University in Washington D. C. , states, “Superstar athletes are few in number, so the demand is high, which raises the price for their services significantly” (Saporito 61).
He says that since it is so hard to find an athlete like this, they need to offer a lot of money, because it is so rare to find a truly great athlete. However, it seems as though there are more and more athletes making these obscene amounts of money. Believe it or not signing a deal for millions of dollars can have a major downside as author, Gary Thorton points out (More Money can Mean More Problems). The minute someone signs that huge contract you go from being a young player with a lot of potential, to a high paid athlete who had better perform like one. When these athletes have a bad day, they are always let known about it.
This happens because these professional athletes salaries are so public. Athletes always complain that their salaries are so public, and point out that nobody else’s salaries are in the paper, and that theirs shouldn’t be either. But I strongly disagree. For the sole reason that, in a sense, we are the ones paying for it anyway. Sometimes the franchise needs more money to acquire new players, but what if they don’t have it? All they need to do is ask an existing player to restructure his contract to make some money available to pay for the newly obtained player.
But the current player has the option to refuse to have his contract restructured, and he probably would refuse to, even if it was in the best interest of the team. Why would he refuse to do that? Simply because he feels he is entitled to the money, that he deserves the money.
A lot of professional athletes are greedy. “Kevin Green, a defensive linebacker said ‘It is true that we are getting paid outrageous amount for what we do out on the turf, but we are the most likely to get hurt in all professional sports. We want to make sure we get what we need before we get out of the league. ” (O’Hara, 12). Yes, he brings up a strong point that the job is dangerous, but so are other jobs for example, a firefighter or a police officer. But these occupations are paid nowhere near that much money. In staying with the greed aspect of sports, Wayne Barrett points out a couple of good points (It’s a Whole New Ball Game). For example, it was bad enough when all the college bowl games began to be named after corporations that paid them millions of dollars to have their logos attached to these rather popular events.
But things become a real issue when a club owner takes a multi-million-dollar payoff to rename a venue that he, himself, does not even own. The taxpayers built those arenas and stadiums, not him. If the name for some reason is leased or sold to some corporation, all the money should go back into the public treasury, not personally to the franchise owner. Greed is not only seen in professional sports anymore, it is seen in college sports more and more everyday. For example, the college bowl game, the Rose Bowl, is now renamed AT&T Rose Bowl.
Stadiums are always changing their names as well. For instance, Syracuse University football stadium is now called the Carrier dome. Carrier, an air-conditioning company did not pay for the stadium, they pay the owner, or the college in this case, to put their name on the building. It is not as bad when a school does this because the school gets the money. But when a professional team does this, the owner solely gets the money. This shows how money and greed are now such a huge part of sports. Peter Euler pointed out that, “we should all take a look at the 1997 Pittsburgh Pirates.
They were a bunch of average players whose total salary was less than Albert Belle’s personal salary; yet, they were in the hunt for a playoff spot midway through the final week of the season, while Belle’s White Sox were not. ” (Athletes’ Salaries Becoming Outrageous). This alone shows that nobody needs to spend these outrageous amounts of money on a team to achieve success; and even if teams do spend a lot, they are not guaranteed anything. Euler went on to say that “greed destroys sports,” and he’s right.
Another thing that Euler said was that “Players and owners need to realize that contracts can’t get much bigger than they are currently. ” This however, is not true. Because every year the amount of money that the athletes sign for is higher and higher. Even if there were more restrictions put on athletes salaries the owners and players would just find more loop holes and different ways of paying the players, such as personal planes or other luxuries. When put in proportion with what other occupations earn on average, these athletes are paid ridiculous amounts of money to simply play a game.
A teacher earns around $40,000 per year. This is a person who has gone to college, and is an important asset in a community. A police officer earns around $50,000 per year. This person risks their life everyday in order to make a place safe for you to live. These are only two examples of people who deserve more money for the work that they do. Professional athletes earn more than 20 times that. In the end, these athletes seem to be extremely over-paid. Money, in general, has seemed to become to important within professional athletics.
What happened to the days when athletes used to play for fun and even have another job on the side to make money? They are not playing for the love of the game anymore, they are playing to fulfill their greedy minds. Some people think its fair that they make more money in yeah than most people will ever see in a lifetime. However, I would rather live without professional sports, than without teachers, or doctors. Maybe the industry needs to re-evaluate their priorities. What’s more important to you, your health or a game?