In today’s society, many will argue whether or not professional athletes are overpaid. In the present time, athletes are being paid phenomenally large amounts of money for their entertainment. It is my claim that all professional athletes are overpaid because they do not offer society an essential function that improves or enhances our world in comparison to other professionals such as medical doctors, lawyers, and teachers.
Society does not value entertainment enough to warrant such high salaries such as those of many professional athletes. There is no reason that these athletes should demand these tremendous amounts of money. This is why you have to put into question their reasoning for demanding such high salaries.
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When addressing the value of entertainment, there is without a doubt, that we as a society value entertainment highly. But there is no reason that these athletes, who are here to merely entertain us, get paid higher wages than those that save our lives and teach us such as medical doctors and teachers. I find it ridiculous that players make millions of dollars a year, and yet demand more.
The entertainment that these athletes provide is solely entertainment; it is not essential to the function or productivity of society. If I were to become a professional football player I would not complain about my salary for many reasons. I am playing the sport that I love and getting paid for it. The minimum wage for football is well over $100,000 a year, as is for many professional sports. These reasons by their lonesome are enough to warrant that the salary professional athletes are paid is sufficient.
Athletes are paid large amounts of money. It can also be argued whether or not these large sums of money have somewhat “spoiled” these athletes into settling for nothing less than what they think is a sufficient contract. In an article from the New York Times, Patrick Ewing quotes “with the money I’m making now I can’t afford to support my family.” (E13). This comment is ridiculous; there is no way that a multi-millionaire should have a problem supporting their family.
These athletes have to set their priorities logically and realistically, a person doesn’t “need” a multi-million dollar estate they just want one; this is what angers me. Another aspect that can be touched upon is whether or not they respect the people who provide their paychecks; those being their fans.
Athletes argue that they are role models for children and endorse products. This is true, but it is what goes along with the job. I would be proud if I knew that billions and billions of young impressionable children wanted to be just like me. You should not have to be paid to be a role model, there is no reason that one should be negative, commit crimes, and do “bad” things regardless of you being an athlete or not. It should be an honor to be praised and loved by billions, this is why I feel the reasoning of the professional athletes that demand higher wages are illegitimate.
The value of entertainment in our society is arguable. We as a society constantly search for new ways to entertain ourselves; professional sports are a major contribution to our source of entertainment. If those who support athletes and their sports have no problem paying to see them, then there should be no problem when an athlete asks for higher pay, because it is the fans who make their paycheck.
Athletes should be able to demand higher pay because they pose as role models, help sell products through endorsements and have shorter careers. For example, a star basketball player such as Michael Jordan made many contributions to the city of Chicago. Jordan brought publicity to the city, people travelled from various places to see him perform, and many tremendous amounts of money for the owner of the Chicago Bulls. Also, Michael Jordan had a major influence on the sale of Nike brand sneakers and apparel. Athletes such as Michael Jordan are the people that our kids want to grow up to be like, athletes pose as role models and are always in the public eye and have to be virtually perfect.
These factors alone should warrant higher salaries. An athlete has to endure injuries and possible physical complications later on in life. For many athletes there is no retirement plan, this is the reason they want to make as much money as possible in their short-lived careers. Professional athletes have a higher standard of living, which means they need more money to maintain that standard of living. Others argue their reasoning is to help their descendants such as their predecessors did for them. For example, Karl Malone, a professional athlete in the National Basketball Association (NBA) quotes:
“It [supporting the union] isn’t about helping Karl Malone,” he says. “I’m going to get mine. But if you look at the history of the NBA, the leaders always left the next group of players with something better, from Dr. J to Larry Bird to Majic Johnson. I’d like to be part of that.”
-Karl Malone, Sports Illustrated, p.183
Taking the risk of financial instability due to injury, a higher standard of living and a short career in comparison to other professions are enough to allow athletes to be paid large amounts of money without any negative response.
Although sports are a major contribution to our society’s source of entertainment, it is not essential. Medical doctors and teachers, who are essential to the development of our society do not demand outrageous pay; they can be considered underpaid. The fans of these athletes are the means by which their paycheck is provided. Some of these overpaid athletes do not respect their fans, so why should they demand higher pay when they don’t respect the provider of their paycheck.
Athletes are role models, this is true, but there are many other societal figures that are role models. I feel that every person should try to be a role model, and inspire the younger generation to be successful. Professional athletes also endorse items such as sneakers, clothing, etcetera; but they chose to do so, it is not forced upon them. These athletes that do endorsements make money from the products they endorse, thus adding to their income. These athletes cry poverty, meanwhile, they have various sources of income, it’s just ridiculous.
Athletes do have to endure injuries, but that is the risk they have to take when they decide to play a professional sport. They should have acquired other skills that will enable them to enter another profession if they are injured while participating in a professional sport. Athletes have higher standards of living by choice; if for example, a single parent can raise three children on an inadequate salary, there is no reason an individual can not survive on well over 100,000 dollars a year. I am not saying these athletes should lower their standards to be equal with the level of an indigent, but they should be realistic when saying they can’t survive on several millions of dollars per year.
In conclusion, my proposal for this problem is arbitration. Not all professional athletes demand outrageous contracts. In many sports, there are already salary caps that will help remedy this. The athletes have to agree to settle for less, and in compensation, a possible retirement plan or some form of benefits should be assembled.
The only athletes that I truly disagree with are the ones that can’t differentiate between “needs” and “wants”. Luxuries are wants, and necessities are needs; if they could settle for less (yet still reasonable) money they would avoid lockouts and holdouts, and continue to entertain our society, which is their whole purpose.
Boody, Kevin (High School football player).Personal interview. 18 Nov. 1999.
Farell, William E. “Holdout Continues”.New York Times 15 Aug.1998:E13
Gaetano, Chris (College football player).Personal interview 18 Nov. 1999.
Martinez, Michael. “Malone Wears Union Label.” Sports Illustrated 17 Aug, 1998:183-184
World Almanac and Book of Facts 1999. New Jersey: A Primedis Company, 1999.
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