Professional Athletes Salaries: Pros and Cons Essay

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As a child, I often imagined myself as a professional soccer player, traveling the world, and making millions off sponsorships. It is hard to imagine any zeros on your paycheck and living a lavish lifestyle for playing the sport you love. Most of us can’t even fathom how much 150 million dollars as an annual salary actually is. Some will criticize that athletes who play golf, basketball, or baseball for a living make millions of dollars, while respected professionals like policemen, firefighters, and college professors don’t. I have struggled with this topic myself. Professional athletes are the core of the sport that brings in ticket sales, merchandise sales, sponsorships, and people. Athletic professional organizations bring in hundreds of billions of dollars, so professional athletes should be paid for their role.

The National Football League is an association made up of and financed by 32 teams and it has the highest attendance of any professional sports league in the world. Its three primary sources of income are merchandising, television networks, and ticket sales. The NFL earned more than 14 billion in revenue in 2018. They are in the business of entertainment. Their employees are talented, professionals that have been given a rare opportunity to make millions for their sports talent, but also have a social responsibility to represent the team, the NFL, and the community with honor and respect. They are role models for the young and old. Aaron Rogers, of the Green Bay Packers, was the highest-paid player in the NFL in 2018 leading with $76 million dollars ( He was the highest-paid NFL professional earning 16% of his teams’ annual income in 2018.

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Comparing an athlete to a business professional, CEOs of major businesses are responsible for bringing in income and profits and share in their success by getting paid extremely well. For example, Larry Ellison of Oracle is paid over 78 million annually, and Marissa Mayer of Yahoo!, almost 25 million. Although we don’t watch them on television or see them endorsing products, they are paid very well because what they do every day is valuable and brings in billions (Henderson). CEOs, like Thomas Ryan of CVS Caremark Corporation, earn $68,079,823. Ralph Lauren, of Polo Ralph Lauren, earns $66,651,515. These companies pay their employee's top salaries are earning top sales. They are the best in their niche. The athletes that are being paid top salaries are at the top of their niche as well. They perform, they train, they overcome injuries, and they make the team better, which in turn brings in sales. They are doing their part to increase the value of the team and should be compensated for it.

Comparing professional athletes to actors is a similar comparison. Top-paid talented actors are individuals that are at the top of their profession and are part of the reason why the movie, event, or series is so successful, thus bringing in outrageous money. They should also be paid for their part in the project. Television hosts such as Judge Judy make about $45 million per year. The voice actors for The Simpsons earned about $60,000 for each hour totaling over $120 million per year, and Sandra Bullock earned $77 million for one movie (Faust).

The criticism is these are athletes that are playing a sport versus a professional that has completed education and a particular skill. Athletes have been honing their skills since their teen years. Although a small number have actually completed college degrees, there is no requirement for education in professional sports (Hickman). According to Hickman, “In the NFL, five out of every 10 players fail to earn a college degree even though many of these players attended college for four to five years”. This is a low number compared to other sports. Mainly because they recruit out of college, not a farm league. The only value is placed on your talent and skill regardless of education, age, and race. The lifespan of an athlete is short, so many athletes are trying to earn the most they can for the short years at the top of their game. Some athletes pursue their education after the prime years of their sports.

Athletes are paid very well to perform for a short number of years. There are very few that are able to play for decades. Many believe athletes play when they actually work (Faust). To demonstrate how unique and valuable an athlete is, Faust gives a unique example:

“In a country of about 320 million people, there are only a maximum of 450 active NBA players at any given time during a season. That’s just about 0.00014% of the population if you’re keeping score at home. In the NFL, on account of the larger 53-man rosters, it’s about 0.00053%. This tells us that “professional athlete” is one of the rarest job titles a person can hold”.

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Professional Athletes Salaries: Pros and Cons Essay. (2023, September 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 12, 2024, from
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