Are professional athletes overpaid?

I was riding in the car with a friend a while back when they said something along the lines of “Professional athletes are overpaid.” While I don’t necessarily disagree with that statement (Lebron), I have to disagree with the sentiment.

The odds for John Doe going pro are 22,000 to 1. That works out to about a 0.0045% chance. Did you know you literally have a better chance at marrying a millionaire, being murdered, being audited by Uncle Sam, or developing hemorrhoids than you do becoming a professional athlete?

Professional athletes are the creme de la creme. People that are the best in the world at what they do, typically are paid well for those skills, whether it be dentist, lawyer, contractor, or blogger. Should we say actors salaries should be capped? How about scientists, software developers, and real estate agents salaries should be capped too?

People get all pissy when they hear Kobe is making $17 million a year, but no one seemed to care when three 20-something guys created YouTube, to later sell it to Google for $1.65 billion. Does Kobe make a lot of money? Heck yea, he does, but who am I to tell him his earning potential should be limited?

Ya see, professional athletes get paid what they’re worth. If they make a big salary, they are likely drawing in a large fan base. In virtually all private sector positions, the better you are at your job (compared to everyone else) the better chance you have at getting paid more. Instead of being bitter that A-Rod signed a $250 million contract, be BETTER at what you do.

What do you think peeps? Are professional athletes overpaid? Should there be pay-caps on certain industries?

29 thoughts on “Are professional athletes overpaid?

  1. I don’t have any strong opinions either way. I actually feel kind of bad for professional athletes… having a ton of money doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be happy and not screwed up.

  2. I don’t think that they are overpaid at all. I agree that those who are the best in their field should be rewarded, which is why I agree that bankers should get large bonuses (providing there haven’t been huge reduncancies). If you want to attract the BEST you have to pay the best. Simple!

  3. They should be paid what the market will bear. If people complain, then stop watching games, buying jerseys, or supporting teams. If the leagues and owners stop making money, then the players will make less.

  4. Saying that professional athletes are overpaid is not the same as saying that there is a solution to the problem — such as a salary cap. It’s just an observation.

    Celebrities and athletes are drastically overpaid because of the invention of TV. They have the ability to perform their skill once, and have the value of that skill multiplied by many many times, and with relative ease. Pretty much the only other fields besides performance (sports, movies, tv, music) that have that ability are software development.

    So yes, they’re overpaid, because they have an inherently worthless skill. But because we have TV/radio/internet, their skill can be amplified many many times, and they make more than a doctor. There’s nothing to be done about it really. Salary caps and price fixing is evil. It’s socialism. It’s the attempt to even everyone out by bringing down the successful. It accomplishes nothing good except satisfying the anger of the envious.

  5. While I don’t mind the high salaries, per se, there are two things about the high salaries that really tick me off. The first being that the higher the players salary, the more I have to pay for tickets if I want to see a sporting event live. I am a HUGE baseball fan and I can remember paying $18 to sit in the right field box seats to watch a game. Now, I would have to pay over $100 for those exact same seats. And if I want to sit behind home plate, well, that’s just out of my price range ($2000 a game).

    The other thing that drives me nuts is the union. Players make a TON of money in salary and then they want more than 50% of the profits from the owners! What the heck? I don’t care how good I am at my job, I would never be able to demand half of the profits on top of a very high salary. I just think that the players unions are very unrealistic. They beleive that without the players, these leagues would fail. I disagree. People love their sports and without these players, other players would come around to take their place and people would still watch.

  6. You hit the nail on the head. Pro athletes are the best of the best. I don’t hear anyone complaining about a minor league baseball player earning $18,000 a year. If you are truly exceptional at what you do, you’re probably going to make a lot of money doing it. If the market is willing to pay you that much, then you have a right to earn it.

  7. I think it’s just sad that they’re paid so much but contribute absolutely nothing to society except entertainment value.

    I mean, think what a hospital could do with $17 million, but instead we’re going to give it to Kobe — so he can do what? Buy a mansion, a private jet and some bling?

    I understand WHY they make so much and the market supports them, it’s just a grotesque waste of resources.

    • Give 17 million to a hospital? They’re multi-million dollar businesses out to make a profit as well. Their work just happens to be healing people.

      • I could be wrong – but I think that’s her point. Helping people would be worth paying for. I’m not big on huge sums purely for entertainment.

  8. I agree with you, and it really doesn’t bother me. However, the thing that does surprise me are the guys that come straight out of high school and make millions (I’m thinking of baseball, I don’t know if this happens much in other pro sports). At that point they are still unproven as athletes at that level. Then again, I guess it’s no different than spending a lot of money on a new product that may or may not fail.

  9. We pay entertainers a lot of money and that is what athletes are. Same as actors and singers, we pump money into those industries and athletes, due to the nature of their trade, have shorter careers and pay a larger physical toll for our entertainment.

    The one thing that I don’t like is hearing athletes complain about money. It seems so out of touch when, for example, Latrell Sprewell complained about not being able to feed his family when he was making 15 million per year.

  10. It’s economics 101: Supply and Demand. People have to realize that athletes make big money because there are people willing to pay them that much money for their services! Low supply of premier athletes means higher demand which allows the supply to run up the price! If people stopped liking football/basketball/baseball/etc, the demand will go down and so will athlete’s salaries.

    Nobody should have issues that these people are making the kind of money they do. What you can complain about is how stupid many athletes are for wasting away all their money and making stupid comments!

  11. It is absurd how much a professional athlete can get paid. It seems that society’s priorities are a little unbalanced. Sure the very best athletes should be making good money, but why substantially more than the professions that actually help society? Like Ryo I am also bitter that the massive contract demands have increased ticket prices to become a true luxury. Unfortunately people will continue to pay whatever the prices are. So professional sports salaries will just continue to increase.

  12. I personally wish there were salary caps. These people are just entertaining us. And yes, we are willing to pay it, but hasn’t America already proved as a whole that we’re pretty stupid (collectively, not necessarily individually) with how we spend our money? We pay over a hundred dollars for a night out at a sporting event but can’t donate to a local library or to help cure diseases? I think our money really could be put to better use. We’re just too stupid to do it ourselves. So until then, we’ll continue spending loads of money to entertain ourselves while others less fortunate can make do with whatever they have I guess. Sorry – this whole topic frustrates me.

  13. I agree that team owners wouldn’t pay them if they didn’t generate more revenue for the team than they cost.

    Instead of salary caps, Congress should just tax professional athletes like crazy. Solve a few problems at once. (BTW, this is mostly sarcastic)

  14. That is what is wrong with North America. We think that these athletes/actors are entitled to this large amount of money. Sure they have trained hard and sacrificed, but what are they doing for the good of the world? They may be donating a peasley amount to charity, but in the big picture, nothing. They are letting me escape from reality for a couple hours. Big whoop.
    Teachers, doctors, nurses, paramedics, firemen/women, policemen/women, therapists, I could go on, SAVE peoples lives, HELP people. These are the people that should have the fan base and the million dollar contracts.

  15. Eh, if the team owners want to pay them that much, then it’s A – a reason (income-producing for the team) and B – their prerogative. It’s not my money, especially when I can’t afford a ticket.

  16. We can’t complain since we pay their salaries. We love watching their games, buying sports jerseys, and following their performance (fantasy sports). We look up to them, and thus, companies give them endorsements. In the end, it’s all up to us.

  17. There is a great deal of money for sports. Some from ticket prices and some from TV rights. In most cases, their career is short and they should get all they can. If we want a change, stop going to events and the money will dry up and so will the salaries.

  18. There is really no “overpaid” or “unpaid.” People’s incomes are pure and simple a matter of what others are willing to pay, and this applies whether you’re Justin Bieber, a federal agent with black bars over your eyes, a cashier at (let’s not go there), a CEO, Tim Tebow, Jeremy Lin, or an entrepreneur selling a product or service. Same reaction to people who complain they’re not being paid “what they’re worth” (which is of course always more than they’re earning), or not being “paid enough to do this job.” Unless you can convince an employer to pay you more, that’s your income and you either have to live with it or find someone willing to compensate you more favorably.

    The above may seem like a strange argument coming from a self-confessed liberal. But I’m just saying how things are. The problem is not so much that certain individuals are earning astronomical pay, or even that there is “income inequality” in America. No one in their right mind would argue that the cashier ought to earn as much as Sam Walton. The problem we’re facing is that for the past 30 years, the highest earners have proportionally outstripped the lower earners at an unprecedented rate while the incomes of the lower earners have remained stagnant. At the same time, while marginal tax rates are at their lowest in history, the high earners (the so-called job creators who haven’t gotten the memo that they’re supposed to create jobs), whine incessantly about how they are being “punished” for their “success” and how incomes like $300,000 are “not all that much.” Unfortunately, so long as this gap between the rich and everyone else continues, growth in this country will remain stagnant, upward mobility will be reduced, and the purchasing power of the middle class will continue to erode.

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