Professional Athletes Being Paid Millions


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Most of us have all watched Sunday night football and gotten riled up about our favorite team missing a pass. Or maybe it’s a tradition to always watch hockey on Thursday with your friends and family. What we don’t get to see is the players’ extravagant lifestyles behind the scenes. The famed professional athletes we all know and love sign multi-million-dollar contracts onto your favorite sports teams every year. But do they deserve to get paid multi-million-dollar salaries? Professional athletes should not get paid millions because people with very positive, impactful, and life-saving jobs get paid far less; the million-dollar salary ruins the future of the sport, and a lower salary could benefit the loyal fans who would do anything for their loved sports teams.

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Firefighters, doctors, and teachers all perform very impactful and meaningful jobs, yet they get paid a fraction of what professional athletes make. Depending on what sport a professional athlete plays, they can make $100,000 to $5 million as their salary per year (McGlothlin 17). Most people know that teachers today make around $30,000 to $40,000 a year which is scarcely anything next to a professional athlete’s pay. Teachers shape future generations and teach young impressionable minds with their job, yet they don’t get but a small fraction of athletes’ salaries. “In fact, each basket Kobe Bryant scores earns him equivalent to the average classroom teachers’ yearly salary” (Bhagat). That’s outrageous. Let us not forget about the firemen and policemen who put their lives on the line every day to make communities safer, yet they get underpaid as well. So when working people save lives and develop the future they get underpaid, but when someone plays a game for a career they make millions. Dan McLaughlin author of Rich Athletes, Poor Teachers says it best “It doesn’t seem to make sense that work deemed important by most people could be valued far less than that which may be unnecessary or seen as frivolous to many” (McLaughlin). Let’s not forget about the cost of living for an average household. With an average income of $63,784 and the average household spending being $17,148 on everything related to housing, not including vacations or another lodging (Price), the amount of money left over for luxuries or other needs that aren’t related to the house are slim. The $17,148 is barely half the amount of a teacher’s or firefighters’ salary. Professional athletes’ salary allows them to live in luxury with no worries for them or their family money-wise. The athletes also get paid leave and paid injury leave, and with major injuries, they typically don’t have to worry because they can pay their medical bills off (Why athletes need to be paid less). The large salary gap between careers that save lives and teach the youth in contrast to a career where you play a game is a major societal problem that puts off the wrong message to today’s youth.

Let’s say you look beyond the issue of other more impactful jobs in society getting underpaid, the high salary of professional athletes ruins the sport. When you ask little kids or even high schoolers what they want to be when they grow up, some will say that they want to be professional football players or any other professional sports players. But most of them only say it because they know of the multi-million-dollar salary and “not for the love of the game” (Picciotto). With the future of the game in the hands of people only playing for money it will ruin the feeling of competition between the teams and their loyal fans. “Lower salaries could result in more people who work hard for the sport and not for the money to play professional sports” (Why athletes need to be paid less). If young athletes are serious about becoming a professional for the right reasons it would increase their devotion and loyalty to the sport itself and create a strong sense of achievement when they make it to the large salary. The professional athletes themselves are supposed to be role models for the kids watching them at home to look up to. Alex Rodriguez makes the ‘same amount of money as it would take to feed the nation poor for a year” yet he admitted to using steroids while playing for the Rogers (Bhagat). Role models like Rodriguez who cheat at their own game, send the message to young athletes that they too can cheat and abuse steroids as professional athletes because, at the end of the day, they will still make millions. The knowledge of the multi-million-dollar salary that professional athletes make influences the younger generations to pursue a career path for money and not for actually loving and enjoying the game. This leads to the absence of competition and rivalry between teams and their fans. Professional athletes also need to be aware of their actions because they have kids looking up to them that are easily influenced.

If you have ever been to a professional sporting event you know that everything, even remotely related to the team you are there to support, costs a lot of money. So, with the athletes already getting million-dollar salaries, why are the prices for everything so high? “With ticket prices gradually rising, not to mention merchandise price tags, sports fans might feel resentful toward funding overpaid athletes” (Picciotto). If fans start feeling resentful towards the teams then they will stop supporting and attending the games. With an “average ticket price for a football game” being over $80 the average sports fan could probably not afford to attend games regularly (Why Athletes Need to Be Paid, Less). The stadiums and arenas that the games are held also depend on the revenue from the merchandise, food, and drinks they sell. Bottled water amounts to over four dollars in some stadiums and the price of a sixteen-ounce beer at NFL stadiums is $7.36 (Why Athletes Need to Be Paid, Less). So, on top of resentment towards the athletes and their high salaries, there is also growing resentment in consumers and fans because of the high ticket, concession, and merchandise prices. With everything compiling together the supportive fans will stop attending the games or buying the merchandise because it’s simply become too expensive for them to support their favorite teams.

An available solution to the overpriced consumer items at sporting events is paying the athletes themselves lower salaries. With paying professional athletes lower salaries there would be lower concession and merchandise prices. This is because the money that would be going towards the athletes’ salary would be going to the stadium that they are playing in, therefore decreasing the need for income from products the stadium sells. Most, if not all, sports fans believe that the sport “should be about the game, not the money” (Why Athletes Need to Be Paid, Less). With lower concession prices at games, it would create a greater influx of diversity because low-income fans could now regularly attend the events. “Even if the lower wages don’t result in lower prices, team owners could use the extra money to give back to the communities that used their own (money) to pay for the stadiums and arenas that teams play out of” (Why Athletes need to be paid less). If the sport team executives did give back to their loyal fans, it would create another incentive for the fans to attend the sporting events. Even if this solution doesn’t work out, there is still clearly a noticeable issue of the inflated multi-million-dollar salary of professional athletes. “While it seems like there’s no way to stop such inflated salaries of professional athletes, the repercussions could cause long-term damage to professional sports” (Picciotto). The long-term damage Picciotto is talking about here is that the once-loyal fans will stop the attendance of sporting events, stop paying for authentic merchandise, and will stop watching the events on TV. If this happens, the revenue that the stadiums collect will decrease causing the revenue of the teams that play there to decrease which could, in the worst-case scenario, end professional sports completely, leaving athletes, coaches, and many other citizens out of jobs. If athletes earn lower salaries, it could benefit their loyal fans and create a greater incentive to regularly attend games because the prices of merchandise and concessions would decrease.

It’s downright absurd that teachers, policemen, and firefighters only get paid an income that is a small fraction of athletes’ large salaries. Laborers like teachers and policemen improve communities by making them safer and teaching children basic morals. The multi-million-dollar salary also ruins the future of the sport. Kids only want to be professional athletes because they have learned about the insanely high salary associated with it. If these kids are the future of professional sports and they are only playing for money and not because they enjoy the game, the future players will not be loyal to teams or the game. At sporting events, the concessions and merchandise prices are outrageously high. This causes the average sports fan to not be able to afford these items, therefore, leading them to no longer attend games regularly. A lower salary for the athletes could benefit the loyal fan and consumers. Lower salary means lower concession and ticket prices meaning that a more diverse fan base will attend the sporting events.  

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