The Parkview Pantera

Are athletes overpaid?

Kevin Devasia, Staff Writer

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LeBron James, Roger Federer, Cristiano Ronaldo, Peyton Manning – what do these four men have in common? Not only are they among the best of the best in their respective sports, but according to Forbes magazine, they rank among the top-ten highest paid athletes in the world. To give an idea of the kind of numbers being thrown around, three-time NBA MVP LeBron James raked in a total of $53 million in the year of 2011. Boxer Floyd Mayweather is actually the top-earning athlete in the world, having earned $85 million in the same year.

When it comes to these men and women making millions and millions of dollars each year, the question that must be asked is do they deserve it? To put their earnings into perspective, the average surgeon earns $231,000 a year, the average lawyer earns $130,490 a year, and the average annual salary of writers and authors is just $68,060, all according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Of course, it must be taken into account that not all professional athletes are earning top dollar. According to Sports Illustrated, the average annual salary in the NBA is $5 million. In the MLB it is $2.8 million, in the NFL it is $1.75 million, and in the NHL it is $1.5 million.  These figures are not quite as whopping as those of the highest paid athletes, but many still question whether all professional athletes are overpaid.

For one, how important are athletes? In essence, they are simply a form of entertainment. Although many people forget, sports are just games. The athletes, or players, are just that – players. Is it really justifiable that individuals who play sports be rewarded so highly? As mentioned before, athletes usually make more than surgeons, lawyers, and writers among several other professionals. Not only do people like surgeons and lawyers prove critical in people’s lives on a daily basis, but they must go through rigorous training and often pay large sums for their educations.

Additionally, athletes are not exactly the best role models. One could name several athletes involved in serious criminal or moral allegations in the past, from Kobe Bryant, to Tiger Woods, to Michael Vick. It can be argued that their large amounts of money influence their lifestyles. Athletes often enter sports at young ages, and being exposed to such large sums of money can lead to expensive and often wasteful habits. For this reason, many athletes often lose their money and end up in deep financial trouble. One example is Antoine Walker. The former Boston Celtics and Miami Heat basketball player  is reportedly over $5 million in debt, after he gave his money out generously and had several failed business endeavors.

On the other hand, it must be said that athletes made large sacrifices in order to get where they are.  It does not just take desire, dedication, and determination to make a great athlete, but it often takes years of hard work and physical strain of the body and mind. According to Sports Digest, only around .05 percent of high school athletes will eventually play professional sports. Players who make it into professional sports are the best of the best in what they do, and some believe they should be justly rewarded.

Along with that, athletes are in small supply and large demand. Think of how many players there are in the NFL. Now think of how many young boys dream of playing in the Super Bowl when they grow up. Only a very small proportion of people actually act on and live out their dreams as professional athletes because they were the ones willing to sacrifice in order to make it to the top. Now that they are there, they deal with several physical strains and long, grueling seasons because it is their job to do so. Fans pay millions of dollars each year to watch their favorite athletes play, and for this reason athletes are constantly under the media spotlight. While they may not be the best role models, they are often expected to be. Athletes have some of the hardest jobs in the world, and for that reason it is not out of the question that they be paid accordingly.

            Sophomore Tasnia Jubery says, “No I do not think athletes are overpaid. Obviously they have talent, and it brings spectators in just to watch them. If an average basketball player was playing it would not really be anything special. For example, if LeBron was playing more people would come to watch, so I think professional athletes get paid the right amount.”

            Sophomore Sharim Khan disagreed by saying, “They are overpaid, but all stars generally are. They are talented, but their talents do not match the millions put into them.”

At the end of the day, whether or not one thinks athletes are overpaid boils down to personal opinion. Athletes are some of the hardest working and most criticized people in the world, but it is questionable whether they really serve important enough roles in society to warrant their hefty salaries.

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Are athletes overpaid?