A professional athlete's salary depends on the public demand for them. Kobe Bryant is paid a higher salary than many professional basketball players because there is a high demand for Kobe due to his skills on the basketball court. As more and more athletes who are highly skilled at their sports are hired, the increased interest of the public and fans will only result in more players receiving higher salaries. In simple terms, when it comes to paying professional athletes millions of dollars it is all comes down to supply and demand. In addition to meeting the public demand for entertainment, professional athletes have to deal with a massive amount of discrimination from fans of the opposing team that not many people face in their daily lives. Finally, professional athletes must stay on top of their game if they want to continue to compete. Many athletes have suffered career ending injuries and in some instances, death.
Every year, more and more people are turning to sports for entertainment. In some culture, certain sports such as soccer have great importance to fans. According to Yahoo!7 Personal Finance, Americans spent $25.4 billion on professional sporting events. (Yahoo!) Many fans are willing to pay thousands of dollars for tickets to their favorite team's game. In addition to tickets, many fans go on to purchase products such as jerseys with their favorite player name on it and other sports paraphernalia.
It is the fans high demand for exceptionally skilled professional athletes and their willingness to pay thousands of dollars for tickets and sports merchandise which determines an athlete's salary. When faced with the argument about how professional athletes are being overpaid, Jeremy Johnson, a columnist for the Illinois State University Daily Vidette Sports, points out that if people "do not want an athlete to make so much money, do not go give them money." (Johnson) He further this point by comparing the argument about the overpayment of professional sports players to people buying Microsoft products and complaining Bill Gates make too much money. It is possible that those who are making such arguments are simply envious about the fact that a person could earn such a high salary simply by moving an object around. However, such arguments are not valid when the majority of societies constantly contribute to an athlete's salary by giving their money to see certain sporting events.
Moreover, with celebrity status, many professional athletes have become entertainers as well as role models for the public. Such status comes with a variety of conditions. One of which is how they present themselves and behave in public both on and off the field or court. Certain actions a professional athlete may take could mean the end to their careers. Ray Rice, a professional football player, is one of the many professional athletes to see his career end due to his conduct off the field. After TMZ released a video of him assaulting his fiancé and due to public outcry, Rice job as a football player was terminated by the National Football League. In other professions, a man who assaulted a woman would not have their job terminated. One such instance is Chris Brown assault on the singer Rhianna. While there was a public outcry, Chris Brown did not lose his job as a singer. This shows that standards for athletes are much higher than other professions.
In addition to filling in an entertainment niche, professional athletes must deal with public discrimination on a global scale. Such discrimination takes a different form from racial discrimination to sexual orientation discrimination. According to CNN, during the 2014 soccer game between Villarreal and Barcelona, a racist Villarreal fan had thrown a banana at Dani Alves. (CNN) To some people, a banana is an innocent fruit. However, to someone like Dani Alves, a professional Brazilian soccer player, a banana is a sign that someone is calling him a monkey or an ape because of his ancestry. The incident became world famous because of Alves reaction to the fan's racist action. Instead of getting angry or upset, Alves simple took a bite out of the banana and continued playing. His action sparked many people to take to social media and congratulate him on such an inspirational response. In a prior event, professional soccer players walked off the field after being targeted by racists.
CBS News reported, "After repeated chants directed his way, Ghana midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng picked up the ball and kicked it at a section of the crowd in the 26th minute of the first half." (CBS News) Boateng along with several of his teammates who were also targeted by racists had left the field. Other professional athletes have endured discrimination in the past as well. Not many people in other professional fields have to deal with constant discrimination similar to what sports players have to deal with and on a global scale. These players must act in a professional manner even when they are confronted with negativity. The question now becomes, how many people would endure discrimination throughout their professional careers for a few millions of dollars?
Discrimination in sporting events takes other forms, too. There is gender discrimination between players. Female players are known to get paid less than their male counterparts. Sexual orientation discrimination is another situation that plagues sports players. Many professional athletes who are gay prefer to wait until retirement to reveal their orientation to the public. They fear backlash not only from other teammates but the public as well. Jason Collins revealed that he was gay while still actively playing professional basketball. Ian Crouch, a writer for Vogue.com, wrote, "A free agent after last season, he [Jason Collins] wasn't signed by anyone, meaning that he hasn't played in a pro game since he went public with the news." (Crouch) While his announcement of his sexual orientation could have ended his career, Crouch points out in his article that Collins age could be the reason his career is at a standstill. Apart from discrimination that takes a mental and emotional toll on a professional player, athletes must also deal with the physical side effects of playing sports.
Every professional athlete knows that a physical injury and even death comes with their job. Professional football players are known to suffer from concussion due to the hard hitting they need to endure throughout each game they play. Professional tennis and baseball players suffer injuries to their shoulders and wrists. Even hockey players are known to lose a few teeth during a game. There even have been times when sports players die during a sporting event. Nascar drivers such as Tom Baldwin Sr. and John Blewett III had died while trying to win a race. While injury or death is not the outcome professional athletes would want for themselves or others, the high risk of either injury or death occurs does justifies the reason professional athletes are paid millions.
Professional athletes try to prevent or limit the injuries they suffer. Suffering from too many injuries can make their bodies vulnerable and worn out. It could also lead to the end of their sports career. There have been instances where a player had received injuries so serious that it ended their career. Amber Lee, a sports lists lead writer for Bleacher Report, written that Dean Ashton retired from playing professional soccer at the age of 26 due to an ankle injury he sustained. (Lee) Another example of a career ending injury would be a spinal cord injury that Eric LeGrand received while playing football in 2010. As a result of his injuries, LaGrand was paralyzed from the neck down. (Lee)
The risk of losing their career due to an injury is higher for professional athletes than in other professional fields. Oftentimes, professional athletes have a hard time finding work after their career is over. Some athletes who are wheelchair-bound or paralyzed have less chance in finding decent paying jobs. Moreover, paying professional athletes less money while the risk to their health is still high would only lead athletes to choose other professions that are less harmful to their health. Receiving a high salary, if a player understands how to carefully spend, save, and invest their money, could mean having a safety net for those professional athletes and their family in case of career ending injuries.
As for those who may argue that professional athletes are overpaid, many fail to take into account the many years of practice it took these high paid athletes to get the skills that they do. Most professional athletes started playing sports in their childhood. Many parents or guardians start their children off rather early when it comes to sports. Children learn all the basics and even compete against other teams. By the time they are in high school or university, many are considered the best in their school. A few go on to be chosen by professional teams to play in their respective sports. Even as professional athletes, these players continue to practice both physically and mentally in order to stay on top. After all those years of practice, professional athletes have to earn their high paying jobs.
Those who think that professional athletes are overpaid point to the facts that since athletes sign contracts, they do not need to play their sport well. This argument falls apart because often contracts come with rules and regulations a professional athlete must follow. Also, many gaming industries such as the National Football League and the National Hockey League have rules, and regulations players must follow if they want to continue playing in these organizations. Apart from rules and regulations, professional athletes are usually people who are highly competitive. These types of people would give it their all in order to win or to make history. Additionally, the better the athletes are at winning games and the more fans they have means athletes have more opportunities to earn more money through sponsors and advertisements. However, many athletes do not join sports for the money or the fame. They do so because sports are what they are passionate about and what they are good at in life.
Many professional athletes are paid millions of dollars to play sports. Many people would be happy to trade places, if only for a day, with a professional athlete in order to experience what it would be like to be rich from doing something so simple. However, sporting events are not as easy as they seem. Players are expected to be entertainers as well as athletes. Since many fans look at professional athletes as role models and celebrities, athletes must conduct themselves and others with respect or risk losing their entire career. With high status and income does come negativity. Some professional athletes have experience discrimination from opposing fans as well as within their sporting organization. Discrimination takes many forms such as racial, gender, and sexual orientation discriminations. Even though hateful events, professional athletes must conduct themselves properly. When faced with discrimination, some average people find it rather difficult to handle. Imagine what professional athletes have to go through on a global scale. Finally, professional athletes have riskier jobs than others. Players can lose their entire career due to injuries. Some athletes have even lost their lives during sporting events.
Professional athletes do not happen overnight. Most train their entire lives to get to where they are today. Even when they are hired, professional athletes continue to train even when their sporting event season is over. The majority of athletes join go pro not because of the fame and money but because they are highly competitive beings who enjoys playing their sports. These are just some of many reasons why paying professional athletes is justifiable.
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Crouch, Ian. "Is Gay Pride Making Progress In American Sports?: Sexual Orientation and the Sochi Olympics — Vogue." Vogue. N.p., 4 Feb. 2014. Web. 1 Nov. 2014.
"How Americans spend their money Professional Sports: $25.4 billion (WR Hambrecht) Page 20 Photos." Yahoo!7 Personal Finance. N.p., 31 Jan. 2013. Web. 1 Nov. 2014.
Johnson, Jeremy. "Professional athletes are not overpaid." Vidette Online. N.p., 21 Jan. 2009. Web. 31 Oct. 2014.
McGowan, Tom, and Paul Gittings. "Dani Alves eats banana thrown at him during soccer match." CNN. N.p., 29 Apr. 2014. Web. 1 Nov. 2014.
"Soccer players walk off field after racist chants - CBS News." CBS News. N.p., 3 Jan. 2013. Web. 1 Nov. 2014.