Professional Athletes Make so Much Money

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Professional athletes make so much money

Alex Rodriguez is a 32 year old Miami native, and, having entered the workforce directly out of high school, currently holds down a job in New York City. Normally, at least for those entering the workforce right out of high school, attaining a good career is rather difficult. This is especially true considering that more and more employers are requiring prospective employees to attain at least a bachelor’s degree just to get into an interview room. However, Rodriguez, since the age of 18, has lived a rather comfortable lifestyle--- he never has had to worry about where is next meal is coming from, where to find shelter for himself and his family, nor has he had to rely on his monthly paycheck to sustain his family. What makes these facts even more interesting is Rodriguez’ work schedule--- he works only 7 months per year. This is because, in 2000, at the tender young age of 25, he signed a contract with his employer for 10 years and 252 million dollars--- all guaranteed salary. What is Mr. Rodriguez’ profession? He plays 3rd base for the New York Yankees. Rodriguez, all in the time it took to sign his name on a contract, quickly became the main scapegoat for a widely growing resentment in American society. This resentment is of the professional athlete. Not the athlete, so much as the salary the athlete earns for participating in an activity that is typically ascribed to the behavior 10 year old child. Are athletes overpaid? Or are their salaries justified? To progress to any understanding on this issue, four key questions must be answered: What does the term “worth” mean, in the context of professional sports? Who ascribes this “worth”, and why do they pay athletes such a high salary? What is the difference, in terms of productivity, between the athlete and those with regular professional jobs? What is the correlation between specialization and salary, in terms of the laborer? This review will examine the various social and economic debates concerning the salaries of professional athletes. What are Athletes Worth?

In the context of analyzing this issue of whether athletes are worth what they are paid, there must be a clear definition of the term “worth”. What does worth mean? Is it value in the sense of their essentiality to human nature? Is it their value to a society? Or does how much one produce remain the determining factor of worth? A common sentiment of the typical sports fan is that athletes are overpaid. That is to say, athletes are paid more than their relative “worth”--- as opposed to teachers, lawyers, doctors, etc. For example, a USA Today article published in November 1994 cites a survey conducted on 2000 individuals on how adequately they feel athletes are paid. 87% of those surveyed responded that they feel athletes are overpaid, compared to nurses (10%) teachers (8%), and secretaries (2%). Sentiments have not changed much in the past 13 years. Judging from these statistics, one may infer that society views an occupation’s “worth” as its value to society. After all, nurses are essential components in American health care; teachers are essential to public education; while secretaries are crucial to various administrative tasks. Within this context of the definition, professional athletes seem to have little intrinsic value to society. They seem rather disposable. Take teachers away, and we have nobody left to teach the children. Take athletes out of the equation? We will simply have no games to watch. This is the essential misunderstanding most people have about professional sports, according to Jimmie Lee Solomon, currently the director of Minor League operations for Major League Baseball. “Professional sports are a business. Our product just happens to be putting highly paid players on the field or court” (Corbett, 1995, p. 85) Therefore, Solomon says, we must not judge athletes based on their intrinsic value to a society; rather, we must judge them as...
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