How much is too much? You hear all the time that this player or that player isn't worth as much as they are making. Some people compare it to other players in the league (a fair proposition) and others compare it to other professions (a completely unfair proposition). The arguments as to why athletes should not make the money they do vary. Some people say nobody should make as much as they do playing a game and others say that the money should be used to do other things. People will point out that athletes are already given everything and we need to do something to regulate the salaries of professional athletes everywhere.
Let me ask you this, would you say no? If someone offered you to play a sport for millions of dollars would you say no? Are you going to sit there at the computer and tell me that you would be willing to tell the billionaire owner a team that it was too much money and you want an offer with less? We are human. When someone tells us we are worth a certain amount of money, we like to believe it for ourselves. Yes, I understand money isn't everything, but it is a large part of the equation.
The fact of three labor disagreements in the past two years have caused us to look at our athletes differently. We lost nearly half of this year's NHL season and last year's NBA season because the players were being "greedy". The problem when it comes to sports is it is impossible to put ourselves into the shoes of the athletes. 95 percent of us don't understand what it is like to deal with ten to twenty million dollars. We cannot grasp what the difference between the two numbers really is. So then why are we so hard on athletes? Why do we feel the need to berate them for trying to make the best living possible? Isn't that what being an American is all about?
Beyond all that, these athletes earn that salary by all the things you don't take notice to. Yes, they technically get paid to play a game, but the money they get paid comes from all they have to deal with because of said game. Think first about how the time away they have every season takes a toll on themselves and their families. Think about your job if you couldn't be home for your kid's birthday. How about Christmas? Well, if you are playing a sport then all that is in the backburner because sports come first. Do you understand how hard it is to establish a family with someone when you aren't home to help with the kids? You can't be there to resolve a fight, to make you're significant other's day better when they need you, to give your kid advice when he needs it. You ever wonder why so many athletes get divorced? Probably not, because you aren't paying attention to that.
Another thing they have to deal with is the constant media scrutiny. If someone breathes the wrong way you are going to know about it. Look at Josh Hamilton. He just signed a $125 million dollar contract. It is well known that he is a recovering addict. Every single time this guy relapses it is on every media outlet. Half the nation knows if the poor guy has a drink. Look at the Kobe Bryant situation. Everyone and their mother (literally my mother can talk to you about this) had an opinion of what went down in that Colorado hotel. Being an athlete means you are a celebrity. Even non-star athletes are in the media. College athletes who haven't established a career will be on the forefront if the story is big enough. Manti Te'o will forever be known as the guy who got "catfished". To make it worse, now people are questioning everything from his intelligence to his sexuality. Would you not want more money to have eyes on you 24/7?
There are at least three all day sports networks in every city. Most cities have two all day sports talk radio. There are a billion websites and even more sports blogs. We all need something to talk about. There are stories that have merit, and ones that people pull out of their nether regions. Some networks will do all they can to cause a stir and get better ratings. Some will go as far as to just report on a theory or straight up guess.
Now that we established SOME of the reasons why an athlete deserves his salary more than you think, let's divulge into why it is affordable. We will make it easy and find the median team in one league and see how much they make on the average ticket price. In the NBA, the Denver Nuggets are 15th in league attendance with 17,422 per game. They have an average ticket price of $47.30 the Nuggets make $824,060 per game. Let's assume that half of the attendance will spend at least eight bucks on concessions. That will add $46,458 per game. Then let's say that ten percent will spend at least twenty dollars on souvenirs. There is another $34,840 per game. The low ball price an owner makes per game is $905,358. Over a season that is $37,119,678. That doesn't seem like too much, right? Now lets get into how much they make on advertising. Pepsi paid a flat fee of $68 million for the naming rights to the stadium. Then you have advertisements on the scoreboard, in the hallways, on the scorers table, on your chairs, in your programs, etc they are literally everywhere. You think that is cheap? They are making tons of money off of that. The salary for the Nuggets is $68 million dollars per year. The profit that these owners make for licensing on top of all this is insane. Remember this is also the league that claims it was losing money before the new collective bargaining agreement.
The owners are making money hand over fist from these players. I know there will always be the detractors who say that other professions should make more. I, too, believe that the work a firefighter or a soldier does is much more important than an athlete. The problem with their argument is those professions are being paid by the cheapest bosses in the world, the people. Our tax dollars are paying for people who put their lives on the line on a daily basis. I know nobody wants their taxes to go up so I don't see them making millions any time soon.
Businesses pay for what you are worth. Athletes are still worth more than most jobs. An owner can make more money off athletes than he can off of someone who can do accounting or run sales. People will say that the past ten years that salaries have become out of control. The richest man in America in 2000 was Bill Gates at a net worth of $63 billion. In 2012, it is Emiritus Carlos Slim at over $77 billion. No matter what people make more money. Even minimum wage goes up seemingly every other year.
The last thing I want you to try to realize is this, after their careers there are very few avenues. Baseball allows 25 man rosters. Multiply that by 30 teams and you have 750 jobs. The NFL has 1,792 jobs. The NHL has 900 and the NBA has 360 jobs respectively. There are literally millions of people who want these very few available jobs, thus making it a premium position. Most professional careers last anywhere between 3-10 years. If you are a superstar you can last up to 15 years. In those fifteen years you need to make enough money to last you until you pass, because you don't know anything else besides your sport. What profession is done with you, even when you are the best ever, by the time you are forty? Imagine if the best lawyer was forced to retire at forty. Maybe the best doctor has to hang up the scalpel at thirty-eight. This is one of the only professions with a serious shelf life. These athletes need to make this money because there is no life after sports.
Next time you want to say that you don't see why Joe Flacco is making more than Tom Brady and Eli Manning, I commend your sports talk, but do not compare him to you or Joe or John or Barbara. It just doesn't compare. Let the players play and get into talking points that have to do with sports. Don't make it about morals.