Professional sports in America have always been a popular subject among the public. The sports industry has prospered so much from the country's 270 million consumers that it is now one of the leading billion dollar industries in the world. Even though professional sporting events bring one of the largest fan bases in the world, a growing majority of fans are becoming more and more disenchanted with the high-priced industry due to escalating salaries. Many fans are tired of paying the high prices for tickets because of the athlete's salaries; however, understanding the evolution of the current salaries for professional athletes may lead to understanding current effects and efforts to prevent further escalation. Salaries are business contracts between the owner and player, a relationship between employer and employee-not the domain of social policy (Eskin n. pag.). However, that does not mean that the consumer's money is not a factor. The sports industry acquires a lot of it's money from what the public willingly pays for tickets and products. Professional sports teams have the money to dish out and create all the substantial salaries due to all of its sources of income.
Sports have a truly unique ability, they bring people of all races, gender, and social classes together forming one common bond, the well-being of the home team, no matter what sport is being played. One of the most amazing statistics about athlete's salaries is that the wealth is not just focused on one sport. In almost every sport in America there is an athlete as 2
equally rich as one in another sport. In 2005, the top salary for a professional baseball player was $26 million, the top salary for a professional basketball player was $27.7 million, and the top salary for a professional football player was $35 million (USA Today n. pag.). It is a little bit harder to become one of the elite filthy rich in sports such as golf, boxing, tennis, etc. because you have to win to have an income. Where players in sports like those make up the difference is in their endorsement deals where they're given millions of dollars to advertise and let the company use their popularity. The main aspect of the athlete salary controversy is, "Are athletes worth the money they're paid (Professional Athletes do not n. pag.)?" The value of an athlete to an organization is decided amongst the heads of the organization and they can use their money, as well as other intangibles, to acquire the talent they want. One popular theory is that you cannot blame the athletes for accepting the money when it is offered to them because it is not like they're taking it by force. No matter what side of the controversy a person is on, it is amazing when they can see just how much money is invested in an athlete no matter what sport he/she plays.
The typical professional athlete earns significant annual compensation, may be relocated to different cities or countries, is involved in a variety of business transactions, and if truly gifted has the opportunity to accumulate a vast fortune. However, a professional athlete is also faced with a variety of financial issues which include a relatively limited playing career, the unique pressures of an unstable market, and the desire to live a high-quality lifestyle (Silow n. pag.). The typical expenses an athlete has to deal with are: player association dues; agent fees; equipment costs; professional fees paid to accountants, attorneys, and investment advisors for tax or investment services; expenses while away from home for training, road games, and other job 3
related events (Silow n. pag.). What most people do not consider is that most athletes do not make the million dollar salaries. In fact, the majority of athletes come out making the league minimum (taking a different n. pag.). Whether or not the athlete hit's the big bucks, does not guarantee him/her a lifetime of wealth and happiness.