Are Athletes Overpaid?


NBAE via Getty Images

Michael Jordan, former professional basketball player, playing for the Chicago Bulls. He is the highest earning athlete, with 2.62 billion dollars (adjusted for inflation).

     Athletes possess exceptional skills and talent that others don’t have, and generally they are greatly rewarded for having these talents. Yet many argue that they are being paid too much, and they aren’t entitled to such wealth.  

        “I feel like it’s a reasonable controversy to have, because a lot of sports are mostly there for other people’s entertainment, and I wonder if they get grossly overpaid for something that doesn’t provide much for the rest of the nation,” sophomore Anika Seidenverg said.

     Seidenverg, a swimmer, thinks that athletes are overpaid and that the money could be put to better use.

     “[To] people who provide something else for the community other than necessarily entertainment,” Seidenverg said. 

      As of 2019, the average annual salary for an NBA player reached eight million US dollars, compared to a firefighter’s average annual salary of seventy thousand dollars. A great deal of people believe that athletes don’t deserve  the amount of money they receive, and that their jobs are insignificant compared to first responders. It seems unreasonable that someone who puts their life on the line makes 100 times less money than someone who plays a sport for public entertainment.

      “Sometimes I’m amazed by how much money professional football players get paid… I can see where it comes from, it’s like a part of the entertainment industry. It’s kind of an offshoot of that,” senior Kyla Kelly said.

      Kelly is also a swimmer and has recently committed to Bucknell University.

      “I think regarding [the comparison between the wages of athletes and first responders], it’s not so much an issue of taking away from this to make that better. You just make the other issue better rather than making it a game of comparison,” Kelly adds.

     Comparing the wages of athletes to first responders isn’t fair, as they are two completely different situations. 

     Athletes are an essential part of extremely profitable entertainment and recreational industries. Sports are a very big part of American culture, and it makes sense for the sports industry to capitalize on that.

     In 2020, the NFL made 12.2 billion dollars in revenue, the NBA made 7.92 billion dollars in revenue, and the MLB made 3.66 billion dollars in revenue. Sports leagues bring in huge amounts of money, which is then reflected in the salaries of their players.   

     I personally believe that athletes are not overpaid because of how hard they work.

     Athletes are incredibly hard workers which make them important role models and good influences for the youth population. 

     Becoming a professional athlete takes years of sweat and tears, and aspiring athletes put in countless hours of training to achieve their dream. To get to this level takes a lot of work and sacrifice. Only a few of these athletes become professionals, and to sustain that level of excellence takes a lot of hard work as well. Professional athletes often have very short-lived careers, around 5-10 years.    

     Athletes also need to support the lifestyle that comes with being a professional. More personal training and constant physical therapy are only a few of the expenses that professional athletes have to face. They are also constantly in the public eye and worshiped like gods by their fans. They are expected to have the best clothes, cars, houses, etc; things that the working class can only dream to afford.

     Athletes contribute greatly to multi-million sports enterprises and deserve to be compensated for all their hard work.