Are athletes paid too much money? It’s one of the most debated questions in sports. It also has one of the most obvious answers. No, they aren’t.
Now, there’s no question that athletes are getting PAID. The average salary in the NBA is a whopping $6.2 million. In the MLB it’s $4.4 million and in the NHL it’s $2.9 million. And somehow the largest league of all (the NFL) has the lowest average salary at $2.1 million.
This is basically the definition of making bank.
All jokes aside, pro athletes are just the tip of the iceberg. What goes unnoticed by many is the fact that there are hundreds of thousands of pro athletes across the world fighting to make a decent living. Even at the highest level of minor league baseball, players can struggle to even make minimum wage and it is estimated that plenty of them make less than half of what an average fast-food worker does.
In the minors, NBA G-Leaguers can make around $23,000 a year and minor league baseball players make about $2,000 a month, but that salary is cut off once the season is over.
When we look at how much athletes are paid, we use tunnel vision to make sure we only see the Lebron Jameses and the Clayton Kershaws of the world, who both make around $32 million. If Clayton Kershaw makes $32 million this year, that accounts for about 3,200 minor league salaries. But Kershaw makes much more than what his contract with the Dodgers says, because that doesn’t include sponsorships.
If anything, those other athletes aren’t being paid nearly enough.
When we think about athletes’ salaries, we often compare them to our own. So when we see that athletes are making millions every year, and we’re only making tens of thousands, it skews our perception. When you actually compare the jobs, being a pro-athlete isn’t always so great. A lot of players have fallen into drugs and alcohol. Plenty have mental health issues at a high rate that not many will understand because they’re perceived to have these amazing jobs. Being a pro athlete isn’t a normal job. You wake up early in the morning to eat, work out, practise and play. You get home late at night, often in the early morning, as well as after late night games. All the while you’re slowly degrading your body to nothing as you have every single decision you make on and off the ice, court or field scrutinized. So next time a player signs a huge contract, don’t fall into the trap of “James Harden will make $364 per shot attempt in 2023” because that only accounts for two and a half hours worth of an athlete’s long and gruelling day.
Don’t forget, that if players got paid less, the owners would make more. The money would not be in your pocket. I don’t think Steve Ballmer (owner of the Los Angeles Clippers who is worth $36 billion) needs much more money in the bank.
And if you’re dead set on the viewpoint that athletes are paid too much, do you go to the movies? Do you even have a television at home? Do you still go out and pay for tickets to concerts or sporting events? In the end, they’re all forms of entertainment where the best are making a lot of money. Many people need entertainment to escape from the reality of their daily lives and, in that, sports are no different from movies or music.
NFL players make a good living, but there’s currently no price to cure their scrambled-egg brains from years of head trauma.
Yes, athletes can make a lot of money. But they often live on a poverty salary, too. For as much as a top-end athlete can make, they have usually earned it. But never forget about the thousands of athletes who aren’t signed to 13-year, $325 million contracts like Giancarlo Stanton.
– Connor Toffan, Sports Co-Editor