Do Professional Athletes “Make Too Much Money”?

I promise I’ll get one of my own posted tomorrow… but until then this is the second in a row from Mr. Wright:

M.D. Wright


Professional Athletes “Make Too Much Money”?

Do they?

Or is it a bunch of jealous people who wish they were in these guys’ position if they had the chance? Let’s dissect.

I listen to people. I actually prefer listening to talking, even though people close to me know I can ramble have rants FOR THE AGES. But in listening to people, I hear a lot of inherent biases and jealousies at play in the comments I hear. Besides, what is the basis for them saying that? And if they really believe what they claim, where is the outrage regarding the owners of the teams who earn 100 times more than the highest paid player in any league?

The fact is, the argument, whether steeped in jealousy, anger at ticket prices or what have you — is baseless. The NFL, NBA, MLB all have lucrative contracts in the multi-billions — that’s BILLIONS with a “B” with TV networks, sponsors to distribute their products; whether the products are the games themselves, jerseys, advertising rights, branding on accessories and fan gear, these leagues make money hand over fist. To take that further, each league has what is called a Collective Bargaining Agreement between the respective Owners and Players’ Unions/Associations. Included in those agreements (hereafter and forevermore known as “CBA”) are Revenue Sharing clauses.

Typically, the players have a larger share than the owners, given they are the actual engines for the leagues. This is understood by all and fair. In the NBA and NFL, players get between 59-60% of the total revenue, the owners receive the other 40, 41%. The thing to consider in that though, is the NFL has 32 owners splitting 41% of over $7 billion. That means hundreds of millions that teams generate. You have a few pro sports franchises worth nearly $1 billion alone. In short, owners make RIDICULOUS, OBSCENE amounts of money.

You have the MLB, with over 1,700 players, sharing in the revenues they generate on the field. You have the NBA with about 500 players sharing their revenue and the NFL with over 1,600 players that share in the revenue. How is it that players “make too much”? They generate BILLIONS for the leagues they represent. They deserve a fair share of the amount they generate (the fact that the NBA and NFL are potentially locking out and the players potentially going on strike is laughable, the owners should take their 40% and shut up. SERIOUSLY). Whining about players making $165M in baseball, or $120M in basketball or a non-guaranteed $100M contract in football is embarrassing to me as a fellow human being. To be fair, the people who say this most are usually unaware of the financial dynamics of professional sports, so I don’t really get upset as much as I am aghast — much like Richard Lewis in this clip at the 1:01 mark:

Calm down folks. If you’re not going to complain about owners’ earnings, then shut up about the players.

And if you couldn’t cut it past high school, well, boo-hoo for you, but don’t be jealous of these guys who take full advantage of their short-lived earning power in their youth. Anyone with any sanity would do the same if they had the opportunity.


7 Responses

  1. It’s not a matter of the players having a larger share than the owners . When taking into account it comes down to the naivete of the owners and GM’s who pay countless millions in large part on the pretense that many of these so called athletes will ultimately lead them to success. Look at the likes of JaMarcus Russell , Ryan Leaf and Mike Hampton ? All paid tens of millions of dollars because they were suckered in by agents . Due diligence ultimately is what’s called for and a sound business template. You don’t honestly think that something like that exists in the NFL or MLB do you much less the NBA ? Because their revenues are large it doesn’t make them a resounding success to begin with . \

  2. Pointing out the dregs of the league will never make your argument. And you’ve totally missed the point.

  3. I didn’t miss the point. Both players and owners make an obscene amount of money. Obscene. We’re talking in the MILLIONS of dollars PER YEAR to PLAY A GAME (or own a team).

    However, there are many many people in the United States and worldwide that are working 40 hours per week or more and not scraping together enough money to feed their families. I am working (yes, WORKING) my way through pharmacy school and had to take out private loans to the tune of $200,000 just to pay for my tuition and keep food on my table (I’m living off about $15K per year, if that puts things in perspective for you). When I graduate, I will be expected to work 60-80 hours per week, as well as taking on-call time, so that everyone out there who needs health care can have access. I MIGHT make $100K per year. Maybe, if I’m lucky. Half of that salary will go to paying my loans, which will take years to pay off given that they gain interest. I will have a doctorate degree, which I earned (and it wasn’t easy). There are millions of other people in this situation – health care workers, engineers, TEACHERS etc etc etc. We bust our butts and barely come out ahead.

    When you think that these working folks are the ones really holding up society, then YES. Professional sports athletes (and their managers) make entirely too much money.

    I’m not saying they don’t work hard… I’m not saying that at all. I’m not saying their jobs don’t take skill. I certainly couldn’t do the things they do. I realize they’ll probably be paying for their career choice in medical bills as they age. I also recognize that there are a good number of athletes who do lots of really good things for society with their money (see: Albert Pujols). However, for every one of the “good guys”, there’s someone who’s totally irresponsible with their money and gets into trouble because of it. There’s no way… no freaking way… that they could possibly spend the conglomerates of money they make over their careers without being excessive.

    I’ll admit – I buy into these things. We all do. I love seeing a baseball game from the stands. I like wearing my hat. I really enjoy buying sports memorabilia for my brother and surprising him with it. But I do also wish that some of these obscene amounts of money being thrown into professional sports were used to better pay our teachers, who are educating the next generation. I wish those dollars were put to use improving our healthcare system so that we don’t have to spend 3 trillion (yes… TRILLION) dollars making sure everyone has access to it. I wish we could use that money to improve our roads so that driving isn’t quite so dangerous – or pay our policeman and firefighters who put their lives on the line to keep us safe.

    You can argue all day long… but there are, admittedly, better ways to spend our money than paying professional athletes (and team owners) hundreds of millions of dollars per year to play a game.

    • Ehhh…..There are parts of this that are correct and parts of this that I disagree with. While yes, no one is worth 17 million dollars for anything, the fact is that in capitalism you’re worth whatever someone is willing to pay you.

      Engineers, teachers, pharmacists don’t bring in millions of dollars for doing what they do. Should they all be paid more? Sure.

      But in the realm of the billion dollar sports industry umbrella…no, they don’t get paid too much.

      By 2008’s standards one win in baseball was worth 4.5 million dollars according to (which is a brilliant site). So far this year Matt Holliday has been worth 3.7 wins for the Cardinals. 3.7*4.5=16.65 million dollars. He’s getting paid 16.33 million dollars. He’s actually underpaid.

    • Hey Bryan,

      While what you said makes sense, it’s not exactly accurate in my mind. How much is your life worth? It’s priceless, right? So when you have an accident and a paramedic saves it, how much is he paid? Somewhere in the mid-20s. And he saves hundreds of lives per year.

      How about the mind of Albert Einstein? He made some of the most incredible discoveries in science that changed the way people lived forever. How much were the teachers who nourished him paid?

      Hey, the food industry is a billion dollar industry. How much are farmers paid?

      What you said makes sense… but since it isn’t applied all around, it’s still pretty unfair.

  4. I hear a lot of people say “it’s not fair that he gets 30 million for Football and I get 100 grand as a pharmacist” because my job is much harder and or more important.

    Let’s address the “harder” part first. I’d say your job is likely not “harder” than a professional athlete. I crunched the numbers; if you’re watching a College Football match .03% of all the players on the field (both teams) will be playing professional Football (and they could get cut)…and obviously this is not evenly distributed. That just goes to show you how competitive it is. If .03% of pharmacy school graduates could even have a chance at being a pharmacist, then they’d deserve a buttload of money. Especially if the demand for them was as high as pro athletes.

    Next is the importance part. Ya’know who is important; janitors and sanitation. Imagine if they all disappeared. Within a few short days you’d notice and it would likely impact incredibly your quality of life. Think they deserve millions of dollars, because their job is probably worth that taken on the whole. Face it, it’s a lot easier to become a Doctor or a Lawyer than a pro-Quarterback, but the importance of these jobs ultimately don’t determine their pay. People often assume pay holds some intrinsic value to the job. It really doesn’t.

  5. i think that if people stoped paying so much money to go to these sporting events the athletes wouldn’t be able to get paid so much because the teams wouldn’t have as much money.

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