Do You Think Athletes Make Too Much Money?

When I was younger, I used to think that Entertainers and Athletes made absurd amounts of money and felt that it was unnecessary.   As I grew up and took a few business classes, including economics, I realized that there is a reason to the madness.    I decided to write about this subject because although David and I are still moving through the Minor Leagues, and the pay at these levels are a fraction of what you make in the Major Leagues, we aspire to be part of the elite.   Honestly, there is a part of you that feels guilt for having the opportunity to make more money than 99% of Americans, but there is also an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for being able to make a difference through your successes.
Fortunately, David and I are on the same page about how we would like to use our newfound fortune for good.   Note, that I am forced to speak in hypotheticals at the moment because David and I are still fighting for a position on a Major League roster – and yes, “He” shall be “WE,” because behind every great man is a great woman.  😉   I found this amazing article that explains why athletes are not overpaid better than I ever could and it is included below.   There are a few things however, that I would like to address prior to concluding.   When you think that athletes have it sooooo easy, here is a list of things to remember from an insider’s perspective:
1. They are just one injury away from losing their entire career.
2. They have to spend nearly half the year away from their families.
3. When their wives have children in-season, they get a maximum of three days off to spend with their newborn.
4. Their careers last an average of 10 years depending on the sport.  Most will be required to retire before the age of 33.
5. Nearly 80% declare bankruptcy and divorce after retirement – The unfortunate reality of a MAJOR life change.
6. Living a life in the spotlight isn’t always welcome.  Athletes just want to do what they love, the celebrity is a byproduct and not necessarily sought after.
7. Sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice….the entire family of an athlete has to make sacrifices in order to see their husband/father/son fulfill his highest aspirations.
8. Nearly all athletes have a charity that they raise money for and often do hundreds of community service hours yearly.
Above are merely a few snippets of the REALITY that is living the life of a professional athlete.  Sure, there is a lot to love and much to enjoy, but don’t ever forget that money doesn’t buy happiness.   What must truly fulfill these athletes is the love for what they do, philanthropy and ultimately faith.   For it is those that find consolation in these things, that live fulfilled lives beyond the playing field.
And now here is the article that I mentioned above (note salaries have changed since this was written):

by Jeffrey Guerrero

Created on: February 22, 2011

“In my opinion, professional athletes are paid what they deserve. Many may say that firefighters, law enforcement, teachers, and all those that are a necessity for society should be paid like athletes. With the utmost respect, I believe that they should not be paid any where close to what athletes make. I’m not saying that these people that help keep society running aren’t deserving of a better salary; by all means, they are perhaps the people that deserve it the most, but there is just not enough money being generated to specifically support them.
American professional sports leagues have a $25-35 billion dollar revenue. It is just completely outlandish to even consider raising a normal citizen’s salary by hundreds of thousands of dollars, unless the entire nation would like to have their taxes raised by a ridiculously large amount.
It is easy to see why many people want to be a critic of famous athletes for making so much money when the average annual salary for an American is around 35,000 dollars. When you compare this to the bare minimum salaries of leagues (NFL-285,000   NBA-385,000   MLB-400,000   NHL-500,000), average Americans have every right to be envious, but nothing more. Athletes should not be condemned for making lots of money nor should they be denounced because of lack of work ethic, generosity, or because of the absurd idea that they don’t deserve it.
The incredible work ethic of any professional athlete is absolutely unsurpassed. They are the best in the world at what they do, and that doesn’t come from just shear ability. They hone their skills every single day until it becomes second nature to them, then; they continue to work to stay at their peak performance. Although they are the most physically fit people in the world, there is a constant pressure to keep your production level as high as possible, because thousands are always fighting their hardest to fulfill a life-long dream to be a part of the elite.
One of the most popular reasons for people to be critical of pros is that they have all kinds of money, but are too greedy to give any of it up. In reality, however, it is the exact opposite. Millions of dollars are paid out-of-pocket by athletes and other entertainers to charities every year. Even the now, not-so-popular Tiger Woods, who recently became the first ever billion-dollar athlete (perhaps only half that now) has given a staggering 9.5 million dollars to a learning center and scholarship fund. Hundreds of others also create their own funds, charities, scholarships, etc. Almost everyone that becomes a pro athlete or makes some money by doing a movie goes back, usually to their hometown to make drastic improvements. They all do this to repay the community they used to call home, whether it was neat or corrupt.
If, after reading this, you are still doubtful of the worthiness of a world-class athlete, then I make this one last request. Try not to turn on your TV, buy any sports memorabilia, or attend any type of sporting event ever again; otherwise, you’d be supporting the ones you condemn. However, since this is nearly impossible, just accept the fact that pro athletes of all kinds; due to the inevitable concepts of consumerism and supply-and-demand, earn the money they receive.”
Here is a link to a debate in which various views are addressed by different writers:  http://www.helium.com/debates/125438-are-professional-athletes-overpaid – feel free to make your own assertions.
And as always – thank you for reading!

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  1. Reply

    Frank Garcia

    April 12, 2012

    To top it off, only a select few of pro athletes are making ridiculous amounts of money. There are only going to be so many Kobe Bryants that come around.

    • Reply

      Baseball Serendipity

      April 12, 2012

      Yeah, it is really hard to be at the level of absurdity! LOL But even still, people will find a reason to complain about even the minimum salaries. Personally, I read the essays arguing that Athletes DO get paid too much and I laughed. Half of them make statements with ZERO validity and are just silly. The facts are simple – Supply and Demand. If people don’t want athletes to make a lot of money then don’t support the sport. Either way, it is capitalism and like any other industry they are earning that money fair and square and in many cases, much more fairly than industries that are morally corrupt.

  2. Reply

    Andrew H. (Miami)

    April 12, 2012

    Fair points Baseball Serendipity, most of which I understand and agree on. My issues with pay only arise when I compare the Athletes with individuals who, in my opinion, are much more important than them are getting paid pennies on their dollar: mainly talking about Teachers and other Social Service men and women. If teachers were compensated half of a professional league minimum, I’m pretty sure we will attract many more qualified individuals to educate our children. The article quoted mentioned that Schools don’t generate the revenues professional teams do, which is, um….an understatement, however it does not change the fact that the salary structure and our priorities are completely broken in this country. I will not cry when I see LeBron James getting paid 25 million a year for playing a game he loves, but I will shed a tear seeing a great teacher leave a underprivileged school because he or she can’t pay for their living expenses. I know the dollar’s and cents don’t clearly add up at the bottom line for teachers and the education system and the salaries paid, but their is a social factor many people leave out when making their compensation calculations. What’s the solution? I have no idea… 🙁

    • Reply

      Baseball Serendipity

      April 12, 2012

      Hi Andrew! Thank you for your comment. 🙂 I have to agree that our public servants are extremely underpaid, that being said, nothing will change until the government finds a solution. There is a lot that the government can do differently and allocating resources is one of them. Again, I will have to go back to the fact that a the professional sports sector is an multi billion dollar industry and as such, the athletes that are, in essence, “the show” are paid justly. Some could argue that you should take a portion of the salary from these guys and put it into the school system, but if people only knew how much they are expected to pay in taxes, not just for their salaries, but also the luxury tax, I would have to wonder where all that money is going? Even still, most of these athletes, including Lebron have donated millions, money that would not necessarily have gone back to doing good if professional sports and the revenues that come through them, didn’t exist. Besides, even if David were never to play in the Big Leagues, I think athletes are much more worthy of earning a large income than people in industries that we all know to be corrupt and contribute to multiple deaths each year – I am sure you know several that fall into this category. Thanks again!

  3. Reply

    Married to Baseball

    April 12, 2012

    For baseball players specifically, the fact that they usually spend at least a few years in the minor league system where the pay is BELOW minimum wage is enough reasoning for me to have the opinion that they do not get paid too much at the Major League level. If they can claw their way through the minor league system and get paid so little the entire time they are there, then they deserve every penny of their major league salary!
    Love this post – I’ve re-read it about 4 times now 🙂

    • Reply

      Baseball Serendipity

      April 12, 2012

      You rock! haha. Gotta live it to understand it!

  4. Reply

    Francis Chabala

    January 24, 2013

    Sure, let us pay ALL entertainers BILLIONS of dollars as there are so few of them. After all, they are worth so much more than the people who serve, protect, and take care of us.

    • Reply

      Baseball Serendipity

      January 25, 2013

      Francis, this has nothing to do with who is worth more as human beings, in my opinion, those who serve and protect have far more meaningful jobs. Nevertheless, capitalism and supply and demand call for these paychecks. If you ask me, all the entertainers that so willingly endorse democrats should be willing and able to give away 70% of their paycheck but that’s something to take up with them. I am a strong proponent for free enterprise and therefore believe that these paychecks make all the sense in the world. This is simply biz savvy and the unfortunate reality for public servants. But let’s be honest – even if we wanted to, there is not enough gov’t revenue to pay public servants anywhere near what entertainers make and if you want to take away their money, to do so you would fall into the pit of communism. Oh btw – my mother worked in the school system for over 20 years and I have many friends and family in the police force as well as firefighters…

  5. Reply

    theSultan

    January 30, 2013

    There could be government revenue to distribute to public servants, if cities didn’t fund or subsidize billion dollar stadiums for wealthy owners

    • Reply

      Baseball Serendipity

      January 30, 2013

      Well that sir, I absolutely agree with!

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