Money in Pro Sports
Most people in America feel that pro athlete’s salaries are too high. Current sports salaries are reaching astronomical figures. Players are signing 50 million-dollar contracts and up just because they happen to be pretty good at hitting a baseball. Just the other day Kevin Brown signed a contract worth over 100 million! Now pro sports are fun to watch and follow, but college games entertain just as well and they aren’t receiving a legal penny. Down south, people like college sports more than professional sports. Player’s don’t Ned to be paid exorbitant amounts of money. The economics involved in sports today hurts the fans, some teams, and the leagues themselves.
The sports leagues can actually be hurt by there own actions. The current NBA lockout is a prime example of money ruining what looked to be a fine year. The owners are locking out the players until they can settle on a bunch of points. The baseball strike a few years back obviously hurt baseball, and this lockout might hurt basketball also. John Donovan from CNN/SI summed it up perfectly, “You have greedy owners and you have greedy players, all of them fighting over absurd amounts of money. And, in the end, it’s the fans who get screwed” (Donovan 1). One dispute between the two sides is the “Larry Bird Exception”. This rule basically allows teams to ignore the salary cap and re sign a veteran at any price. Michael Jordan alone makes 6 million more than the team salary cap. The owners want this modified because some teams are just too good. The players don’t want to budge on this issue. Their side on this is that there is no middle class because of the salary cap. This is a very good point. Salary caps are important to keep teams close, but that leaves great players making millions while the good players make too little. The owners are trying to get the most money out of their team but in the mean time nobody is watching their team play and the profit is zero.
Money problems have and will continue to scar sports and more importantly the fans. What should you tell a little kid who loves basketball, when his favorite player is playing golf somewhere instead. High price players effect fans more than you might think. According to Richard Amrhine, “The Los Angeles Lakers offered Shaquille O’Neal $123 million over seven years. The deal will help push tickets for the so-called cheap seats at the LA Forum from $9 to $20.” That is ridiculous, now the average family has to spend a fortune just to go see a game.
Relocation seems to be the new thing for teams to do. In order for a team to be good they must buy good players. If they don’t make a profit they must move. The best example of this would be the Cleveland Browns. Despite having some of the most loyal fans in the world, the owner decided to move to Baltimore, where they could hopefully make a profit. Once again money problems stemming from high salaries comes between fans and their beloved game.
If the trend in sports doesn’t change, I would have to think that attendance is going to drop. Sports popularity is soaring but more and more people are going to have to watch the games on the TV. Prices for tickets are rising pretty steadily and there are more and more premium seats being placed around the arenas. How can the average family afford to go to a game when for 4 people it will cost well over $100. And then you can factor in the absurd prices for food and drinks. Pro sports may soon become entertainment for the rich.
The way sports are set up today money is a huge part of how successful the team is. It has often been said that you can buy yourself a World Series Championship and to a certain extent it is true. A couple years ago the Florida Marlins bought many high priced players, putting them at the top of the salary list. They won the World Series that year and then totally dismantled the team. The next year the Marlins were one of the worst teams in the league. Even though Florida did win with money it doesn’t always work out. Last year the Baltimore Orioles had the highest payroll, but they didn’t even make the playoffs. High priced players don’t always equal high talent. In spite of the fact that teams with high salaries don’t always win, it has been calculated that unless your payroll is at a certain level you are out of the race before it even starts.
Baseball has the highest salaries out of all the sports. With the average salary at about 1,000,000 it’s hard to think of any player as poor. And the salaries are growing very rapidly. In 1981 the average income was $185,000. Compared to the “real world” baseball players are totally in a league of their own. “In 1976 the average ball player earned eight times the US average income. In 1991 the average ballplayer earned forty-seven times the average US income” (Zimbalist ?). Salaries really have lost every sense of reason. If you wanted to look at the other side of the coin, baseball players do make considerably less than their entertainment counterparts.
On the field money is just a fraction of what some players get. In 1996 Michael Jordan made 12.6 million dollars. But since image is everything he made $40 million just in endorsements in one year! All because some companies believe his face will help them sell their product. Sports athletes are hot commodities. Everywhere you look there is a sports related endorsement. Some companies rely solely on sports figures to advertise even if their product has nothing to do with sports (Wheatees, Campbell Soup).