The Athlete: The Most Influential Business Role in Sports

Matthew GilmartinSenior Analyst IJuly 11, 2008

I know what you're thinking.  Saying athletes are the most influential people in sports is cliche.  But...

Businesses are all about making money.  Athletes move by far the most money in pro sports.

As we all know, athletes command millions of dollars in salaries. 

New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez has had a $250 million contract in the past. 

NBA guard Gilbert Arenas recently signed a five-year, $111-million contract to stay with the Washington Wizards. 

NFL defensive end Dwight Freeney re-signed with the Indianapolis Colts last off-season for $72 million over six years.  That deal made him the most highly paid defensive player in NFL history. 

And that's just scratching the surface.

The best athletes also have endorsements with every company from Nike to Gatorade and even LG.  These endorsement deals often bring in even more money than the players' contracts.     

Plus, think of how much money the players make for their respective leagues.  TV ratings, ticket sales, standard game-day sales such food and merchandise, and advertising at the arenaamong other revenues. 

All this amounts to millions, even billions, of dollars every year for the NHL, MLB, NFL, and NBA. 

Athletes move the most money in pro sports, so they are the most influential business figures in sports.