In the United States, three major sports make up a year-round schedule. The Major League Baseball season begins in early April and lasts through October. The National Football League runs from August until the first week of February. The National Basketball Association starts in late October and finishes in mid-June. This allows any willing American to watch at least one of these three sports at any time during the year.
Over the years, these leagues have raked in millions of dollars in tickets, advertisements and endorsements. Because of the vast amount of money going into these games, the players are given enough attention to draw in their own small fortunes.
Kobe Bryant is currently the highest paid NBA player this coming season with a $25 million contract. LeBron James, national superstar for his performance in the sport of basketball, comes in at third, raking in just under $23 million in the 2015-16 season.
For baseball, the position of highest-paid player goes to Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers. He is a pitcher and is currently making over $31 million for the 2015 season.
Lastly, for football, Drew Brees, quarterback for the New Orleans Saints, is going to make approximately $26.5 million.
Let’s put this in perspective. Let’s say someone out there is currently making $100,000 for their work. Let’s call him Bob. This is a relatively high salarycompared to the national average, but let’s save that for later.
Kam Chancellor was the strong safety for the Seattle Seahawks in both of their last two seasons, which both became Super Bowl runs. He is set to make $5 million this year but is holding out on a contract because he wants more money. With Bob’s salary, Chancellor would need to work that same job for 50 years to make what he will make this year.
Fernando Rodney is the current closer for the Seattle Mariners after they picked him up as a star of the Tampa Bay Rays prior to the 2014 season. This year he will be making $7 million and has proven not to be worth the money.
While for the last three years before this one, Rodney accumulated 44 saves on average with an overall Earned Run Average under 3.00, his stats this year have been vastly subpar. He has played in roughly two-thirds of games held each season, and has only brought in 16 saves with a 5.20 ERA. Bob’s salary would currently require him to work 70 years to achieve the pay that an underperforming Rodney gets in a single season.
Felix Hernandez is currently the star pitcher for the Seattle Mariners and has been for several years. For the 2015 season he is set to acquire $25 million. Let’s say that he will pitch in 32 games this season, each for 100 pitches. The math rounds out to him getting $8,000 with each pitch. On Hernandez’s thirteenth pitch, he will have made more money than Bob is set to this year.
$100,000 is a high number, too. The current national wage in the United States is just around $45,000, less than half of Bob’s salary. It would take a typical American 100 years to achieve
Chancellor’s pay, and 140 years for Rodney’s, while Hernandez makes more than that average with only six pitches. That is really unhealthy for the country.
This kind of money undermines sports as a whole and the value they come with.
Surely anybody has happened to come across a commercial for a certain food or beverage or other purchasable item starring athletes. For example, the pizza place Papa John’s has sponsored quarterback Peyton Manning for years now. Having to perform in ads and commercials like that can be quite distracting to training for the sport.
On top of this, the access to vast amounts of money opens avenues to dangerous lifestyles.
Star athletes are promoted at parties to gain their popularity in situations that are strictly focused on the superficiality of things. Not only does this attitude have potential to take athletes down paths of drug abuse or violence, but it takes attention away from both their practice and their family.
As a final point, sports stars are under a lot of pressure. Millions of fans exist across the nation and because of this, sports stars are pressured to hold high standards with the media. We as a community have seen the media take down certain athletes who don’t have this high image so it is like a second job for an athlete to have to keep their image in a good light.
It does not seem like there will come a time when players are paid average wages, but the current astronomical salaries for sports players is highly unhealthy for both the athletes and society as a whole.