One of the more popular names in sports media is LeBron James. He is currently a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, was named Rookie of the Year in 2004, won NBA MVP four times, was the player of the month forty-seven times, and has won the NBA championship twice, and that was only about a quarter of his accomplishments throughout his career so far. LeBron James gets paid somewhere around 25 million dollars a year, so the question arises, does he deserve the money that he is being paid? The answer is yes, and this goes for any other professional athlete; athletes are paid what they deserve.
The “formula” of an athlete’s salary goes as follows: the better the athlete, the more money they receive. According to Tony Manfred of Business Insider, the average salary of a professional NFL player is about 1.9 million dollars a year, which accounts for about seventy percent of the league. However, a player such as Adrian Peterson, who is currently the highest paid running back in the NFL, has a salary of about 14 million dollars a year. This is because the team and league has set standards for Peterson because of his past accomplishments. They expect him to perform for his team and to do good things both on and off the field. This goes for any professional athlete; the relationship between the player and the league is based off of trust. The league, just like a boss at a “regular job,” believes that the employee is a professional for a reason and they should act like one and treat their job as a priority.
Another reason as to why players are paid so much money is the risk of injury with the sport that the athlete plays. While playing their sport, athletes are almost constantly at a higher risk of injuring themselves than the average person. If an athlete is unfortunate enough to hurt themselves in a serious way, they could end their career, not to mention the possible life-changing effects it would have on that individual and their families and friends. All of the hard work that an athlete has done to achieve their success in a particular sport can be lost by doing exactly what they were supposed to do. Also, if a player is out for the rest of their career, all sponsorships are lost, there is no more steady income, and after a short while, the league begins to stop supporting the injured player financially for their medical bills, leaving the player to try and support him or herself alone.
Along with the responsibilities of their sport, the most famous athletes are also treated as celebrities. This also includes sacrificing their private lives just for the excitement of their fans. Basically every move they make is watched by their fans, by the team that is paying them, and by the league. They basically have to give up their privacy in exchange for fame and money. “... and they are deprived of the right of living a normal life like everybody else.” (Cummins) Depending on how famous the athlete is also directly impacts the standard set not only by the league but by their fans as well. A perfect example of this is the, now former, Cleveland Brown quarterback Johnny Manziel. Before he entered the NFL, he was a very positive role model to many young and talented athletes; many teenagers wanted to be like him in hopes of gaining the same opportunities that he had. After one season in the NFL, Manziel’s career started to go downhill, not because his talent was diminishing, but because he started being irresponsible and making decisions that weren’t beneficial to his career. Because of his decisions off of the field, he was cut from the Browns and is now a free agent.
One may say that the money earned by athletes should go back to the community or is being taken away from people like doctors or military servicemen and women. While the efforts and services do surpass that of a professional athlete, it is not the player’s fault that they are being paid so much. Most of the money that is being paid to the player comes in forms of sponsorships given by companies so the athlete can use their celebrity status to advertise their product. Another portion of an athlete’s salary comes from the league and the money they give to the teams so they can properly pay the player. The final portion of a player’s salary actually comes from the fans. Depending on how popular the athlete is, the more fans that will show up to watch them perform, which gives money to the team, which then leaves more money to be dispersed between players. A second argument could be made saying that the salaries could be used to give back to the community. Both players and leagues take an equal part in giving back to the community. The MLB has numerous charities to promote the good health of communities nationwide. Also the New Orleans Saints, led by Drew Brees, has made multiple donations to the city of New Orleans to help with the tragedy of hurricane Katrina. A final counterargument to the salaries of professional athletes is the belief that athletes do not use their money wisely. The media covers all of the more expensive merchandise bought by higher paid athletes, however, what it doesn’t include is the fact that most athletes actually save their money. Marshawn Lynch, debatably one of the leagues better running backs, claims that he has not spent any of his money that he has gotten with his salary, and has instead used the money from sponsorships. This means that Lynch has saved almost 50 million dollars in ten seasons with the NFL. In fact, due to the recent bankruptcy of many players that have retired, other athletes are starting to follow suit and saving up the money instead of buying everything on a whim just because they can.
Professional athletes go through many other trials that the media doesn’t cover. All that is shown are the games that the team plays during the season, but nothing is popular during the offseason of the sports. Not to mention the stress and mental toll it has to have on an individual that is expected to better themselves everyday they come in to work. Athletes truly earn what they deserve.
Arnold, Geoffrey. “Seahawks Marshawn Lynch hasn’t spent any salary money: Report.” Oregonlive, The Oregonian. 26 February 2016. Web. 20 May 2016.
Cummins, Jamal. “Professional Athletes Deserve Their Pay!” Gigare Lifestyle Magazine. 2015. Web. 18 May 2016.
Johnson, Jeremy. “Professional Athletes Are Not Overpaid” Daily Vidette Sports Columnist. 21 January 2009. Web. 18 May 2016.
Manfred, Tony. “Two Charts That Expose How Badly NFL Players Get Paid.” Buisness Insider. 5 September 2013. Web. 20 May 2016.
Pawson, Cooper. “Professional Athletes Earn What They Deserve.” Linn-Benton Community College Commuter. 5 August 2014. Web. 18 May 2016.
Stein, Dan. “Why Pro Athletes Aren’t Paid Too Much.” Bleacher Report. 9 September 2008. Web. 18 May 2016.