Why Pro Athletes Aren't Paid Too Much

Dan SteinContributor ISeptember 9, 2008

How many times have you heard a fan, friend, or a talking head complain about the excessive salaries being paid to professional athletes? 

Complaints about how no player is worth $25,000,000 a season or how a team with a payroll in excess of $100 million constantly permeate throughout sports talk radio and bar room discussions alike. 

But I am here to say 90% of professional athletes are being paid exactly what they deserve. The professional sports industry is a multi-billion dollar a year industry.

Between ticket sales, television and radio deals, advertising, and merchandise sales, professional sports is one of the most profitable businesses in the world.

Team and league run websites have only added to the revenue streams of professional sports. According to an article from cbcsports.ca (the equivalent of cbssports.com here in the states), Canadian pro sports leagues reported $2.2 billion dollars in team revenue.

That number is much higher here in the states. 

Pro sports teams, with the exception of the publicly owned Green Bay Packers, are not required to open their books to the public. But if Canadian teams are generating $2.2 billion you can be sure that American pro teams are producing 10-15 times that amount with our larger amount of pro teams, bigger arenas/stadiums, more television time, and larger overall population of sports fans. 

The players who help to fill those stadiums, attract fans to their tvs, radios, computers, and sell their jerseys and team apparel deserve their cut of this $25-35 billion dollar pie.

According to USA Today, the median salaries of players in the NFL is $677,647 a year. 

Now that sounds like a lot of money to most Americans, including myself. But when you look at the context within which the athletes who earn that salary, you will realize that they are paid accordingly. 

Athletes put in well over 40 hours a week of practice, study, workouts, and game time.  They also put their careers on the line each and every time they go to work.

How many of us can say something like that? 

When was the last time you stepped into your office not knowing if you'd be able to physically come back again tomorrow and file another TPS Report? 

NBA teams have only 14-16 players under contract throughout a given season. These 14-16 are the key COGS (Cost of Goods Sold) that make the NBA money machine tick. 

In 2006-2007, the average salary for a player from the Milwaukee Bucks was $2,537,880 dollars. Although the revenue of the Milwaukee Bucks that same season is not publicly available, it is widely believed that most NBA teams bring in between 200 and $300 million annually. 

I am not arguing that most Americans are underpaid or that an athletes job is so much harder than the majority of American's daily grinds. I am simply suggesting that when you breakdown the numbers and look at the bigger picture of just how big of cash cows professional sports have become, it is only fair that the few select athletes who are good enough to make it in those leagues are properly compensated. 

Athletes earn just what they deserve financially. 

Exceptions include Carl Pavano, Mo Vaughn, Stephon Marbury, Keith Van Horn, Mike Hampton, and Allan Houston.