There’s been a lot of talk recently about whether or not professional athletes are being overpaid relative to the importance of their jobs. And, while it is true athletes can make an absurd amount of money, I think a lot of people are forgetting about a few key points in their rants against athletes. But before I get into the details, I want to explain why this issue is important. How is this a civic issue? Athletes in professional sports compete in their sports (obviously) but they also compete for your time, your money, and your support.You deserve to know why the ticket prices have increased, or why so many people have resorted to buying $30 Chinese-made knockoff jerseys instead of paying $100 for the “real” ones. For better or worse, sports fans are invested in their teams and the discussions surrounding the role of money in sports are important to them.
Unpopular opinion time: I do not think that athletes are paid too much money.
I think they are paid ridiculous amounts of money, but I don’t think it’s too much. Why is this? Well let me tell you.
The main arguments claiming athletes are overpaid are generally feeble and generally lack logic. The comparisons they draw (and they love to draw comparisons) are noble but are ultimately not plausible. Let’s take a look.
Their job isn’t important enough to make that kind of money.
Umm… think again. This is a popular argument used as it questions why someone playing a sport deserves to make more money than, say, a teacher. Well, unfortunately, being deserving has nothing to do with it. Those who subscribe to this argument note that teachers, police officers, firefighters, and doctors all make less money than most professional athletes, even though their jobs are much more noble and important to society. But while this is true, this argument doesn’t consider why this is so. This type of wishful thinking could be easily countered by applying some basic economics because the market determines the price.
Supply and demand. On perhaps day one of an economics course you will learn that when something is in high demand or short supply, people will pay a lot of money for it. Well, with professional sports, we see both short supply and high demand. The amount of people who make it to professional sports constitutes not even a fraction of the people who played that sport at any other level. These athletes are the best of the best and people are willing to pay to see them. Teachers, police officers, and everyone else are generally in great supply. In fact, any recent education graduate will tell you that there are more teachers looking for jobs than there are jobs to fill. And, while unfortunate, this is how the job market works.
Why do we spend so much money on sports when we could just as easily use it to solve the glaring social issues we face today?
This may be hard to hear, but perhaps the amount of money we spend on sports speaks to what we value as a society. While I am not arguing against helping the poor or saving the environment, I also do not find it odd or disturbing that we place such a high value on sports. We are advanced enough as a society that we can afford to spend money on entertainment. Evidently, we hold our entertainment in a rather high regard. This argument also looks past the fact that some of the leading philanthropists in our society are athletes who are giving back to their communities. But, this aside, the money athletes make is a direct response for this
need for entertainment. Another reason athletes are paid so much is because owners are willing to pay them that much. An owner who is not willing to spend the money will find themselves with a bad team, and bad teams don’t make money.
Not even the President makes that kind of money.
Well people don’t usually get into politics to make money. Honestly I’m not really sure why this is as popular an argument as it is, but I’ve come across it in nearly every article I’ve read. The President is a public employee who’s salary is paid for by taxpayers, so of course it’s not millions of dollars. Athletes are private sector employees who are at such a premium that we are willing to pay them as much money as we do. Also, past Presidents often make most of their money through book deals and speaking tours, and we seem to have no problems with that.
Not only do they make too much money, but they also are greedy and complain that it’s not enough.
Why are we blaming the athletes? I find no fault in people using their skills to benefit themselves (assuming they do it in a way that doesn’t hurt others). I also find it hard to believe that if any of us would not do the same if we were put in the same situation.
Perhaps I am missing the point, but I don’t think I am. I think if people find issue with the amount of money professional athletes are being paid, they should look inward to what we value as a society when assigning blame. While there are certainly more noble professions, the fact remains that the righteousness of one’s profession has no relation to the amount they are paid. If this were true, the director of a non-profit would make billions while the CEO of a pharmaceutical company that drastically marks up the price of essential medications would be struggling to get by. So while the argument stating athletes are overpaid has some merit, I ultimately can’t believe that we should accept it.