Are Professional Athletes Overpaid?

Elizabeth Vollmer

The United States pays its professional athletes way too much. According to the Huffington Post, within a five-year period an average professional athlete in the NBA makes $24.7 million, $17.9 million in the MLB, and $1.9 million in the NFL. To put this in perspective, the President of the United States has a $400,000 annual salary.

I believe these salary amounts reveal something terrible about our society: we are much more willing to support our professional athletes than we are willing to support teachers, firemen/women or veterans. In fact, the amount of money Kobe Bryant makes for each basket is equal to the yearly salary of the average schoolteacher.

While professional sports do play an important and valued role in our culture, I question how much we are willing to pay our professional athletes, especially considering how college athletes are often paid nothing in cash (excluding scholarship funds). This creates a dilemma, as some college athletes are actually able to make more money by dropping out of college and joining the professional leagues than by staying in school. The enticement of millions of dollars is just too much, even compared to a degree that would benefit these athletes after they retire from professional sports.

Even more common than leaving college early, many professional athletes end up losing all of their money and filing for bankruptcy. A large number of athletes that are making millions early on actually end up going bankrupt because they never learn proper finance management. According to Sports Illustrated, 78% of pro football players go broke after retirement and 60% of basketball players lose all of their funds within 5 years of retirement. Vince Young is one such athlete, an NFL quarterback that made $34 million over six seasons, and had to declare bankruptcy due to legal costs, loans, and overspending. Sean Salisbury, a sports talk show host and former NFL quarterback, says about Young, “When you’re making money, you think it’s going to last forever.”

It is irresponsible of our society to trust 20-somethings with this much money. Giving these athletes this much financial freedom could be why many athletes feel entitled, leading to issues of sexual and domestic violence. When athletes are paid this much money, they are taught to believe that they are the most valued members of society and thus can get away with anything, which is the failure of our society in training our athletes to believe this.

Sources:,[/twocol_one] [twocol_one_last]No
Samantha Rosenfeld

There are some things that one can regularly expect during this time of the year, and Sunday night football is one such item. Perhaps one of the oldest debates within the realm of sports is in reference to the fat paycheck the professional athletes, whom we continuously cheer on, get stuffed into their back pockets. We question just how much skill it takes to run after a ball in direct comparison to some of the other professions within our society. And while so many are under the impression that this paycheck has one too many zeros in it, I believe that these individuals are dedicating themselves so fully to their occupation, purely for our entertainment I might add, should not be villainized for the amount of their reimbursement. While they do forfeit some things in life for the sake of their occupation, many others do the same in a more intense and beneficial way to society. But in the end, my argument remains that the reason I believe professional athletes are not “overpaid” is due to the value society places on their specific occupation.

Yes, professional athletes work on a daily basis to keep in top shape, both physically and mentally. When a professional athlete is not involved in an actual game, you most likely will not find them lounging on a couch with a trail of potato chip crumbs on their sweatshirts.

Professional athletes also find themselves working through hectic travel plans and hotel-living situations. These individuals spend minimal time with their families, especially on major holidays and events. The strain of a professional athlete’s life can center around trying to balance their family life with their work demands and “celebrity” status.

And, yes, professional athletes are in danger of injuring themselves long-term, or even in some extreme cases, death. The NFL Union medical director, Thom Mayer, spoke about the growing increase in injuries during the 2010 season, stating, “We know that injuries are part of the game, but the more data and information we can gather on player health and safety, the more likely we are to make the game safer. Player contracts are not guaranteed, even as injury rates rise, which means careers face sudden ends each time the ball is snapped.”

So, yes, these professional athletes put their health and careers on the line quite often, all for the sake of what is considered at its core to be a recreational game.

We live in a world of supply and demand; this directly applies to the ample supply of sports entertainment that we indulge in without apology or second thoughts. Events such as the World Series or the Super Bowl are not the only days of the year in which we set aside time to sit back, relax and enjoy the game. Rather, we base our time and conversations daily around this large port of entertainment, and then continue to moan and groan about the price at which it costs. Perhaps if we were not so heavily reliant on the men and women who dedicate their lives to a sport for our happiness, then the paychecks would rest at a more reasonable level. I am not at all condoning the particular price these individuals are handed to work as a professional athlete, but rather arguing for the sake of argument that perhaps we as a society have placed the blame for this situation on the wrong party. How much easier is it to point a finger at that particular third baseman, as opposed to owning our own faults?


Comments are closed.