Mr. James John Sharpe
Fundamentals of Media Writing
3 August 2018
Are American Major Sports Athletes Overpaid?
American major sports contain the National Basketball Association (NBA), Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Football League (NFL), and the National Hockey League (NHL). Every year, we hear news about how an American major sports athlete has just signed a record contract. Then about the same time the following year, we hear another athlete signing a new contract eclipsing the previous contract amount. This never gets old, and yet people are unable to comprehend the rationale behind why athletes are being handed such fat contracts. Although these athletes may not hold the same value and importance to society as other professions such as teachers and doctors, they are deserving of their salaries due to their short shelf life, the strenuous physical training they undergo and injuries sustained which affect them both during their careers and their lives after retirement coupled with the undisputed fact that their net earnings are way lesser than their reported gross salaries.
American major sports athletes have short shelf lives to make his or her career earnings. This means it is essential that they maximize their earnings potential within their active professional sports career. Let’s use ex-NBA player Roy Hibbert as an example. He’s 31 years of age, and a nine-year veteran who plays Center position and has not officially retired. Drafted in 2008, he last played in the NBA in 2017. During his time in the league, he was Defensive Player of the Year runner-up and a two-time NBA All Star in 2012 and 2013. He was on a 4 year/$58 million contract from 2012 to 2016. However due to the modernization of basketball which involves having the player at Center to be a lot more agile and be able to shoot three pointers, Roy Hibbert was simply too slow and a non-factor on offense outside 10 foot from the basket. This led to him earning a meagre $695,224 a year contract with the Denver Nuggets before ultimately falling out of favor across the league. The high rate of turnover in the NBA is epitomized by Roy Hibbert’s steep declination from NBA all-star to out of the NBA all within four years. Furthermore, based on statistics from Paysa, the NBA “average career length is 4.8 years with the lifetime earning potential”. It does not get any better with the other major sports, NFL players’ “average career length is 3.5 years with the lifetime earning potential of $3,010,000” and for an MLB player, the “average career length is 5.6 years with the lifetime earning potential of $2,912,000” (Becker, 2018) These athletes’ short shelf life combined with salaries meant to last them into their old age justify their rich salaries which surpass the economical level and thus proves they are not overpaid.
Besides having a short shelf life, American major sports athletes have to undergo strenuous physical training to keep in shape and s...