Post Classifieds

Overpaid Athletes

By Zac Schon
On September 28, 2010

Alex Rodriguez signed a 10 year contract with the Texas Rangers in 2000 for $252 million, which is probably close to the budget of Chicago Public Schools. Christiano Ronaldo of Portuguese football fame and famous transfer from Manchester United to Real Madrid put the 25 year old part-time model for Armani in a 6 year, £80 million ($123 million) contract, making Jim Jones come out of the woodwork to scream "Ballin." Tiger Woods, prior to his adultery scandal, was making more money than he could burn in a day.

With poverty in much of the world, disasters that decimate the economy and lifestyles of countries that are trying to catch up to the industrialized fraternity of the Western World and education receiving more cuts in funding than NASA in America, why are these players making such ridiculous amounts of money, and why can't we spend the money elsewhere?

Look at the Cleveland Cavaliers and their soon-to-be-missed income generator LeBron James. In a 2005 report from Forbes, the Cavs were worth $356 million. The revenue pulled in was set at $102 million, operating income at $12 million, player expenses at $52 million, and gate receipts at $30 million. In other words, this small market team generated large amounts of cash flow for something that some would simply write off as a stupid game.

To further exaggerate this point, take into consideration that this is an era in which LeBron is spoken of as the next big thing, as opposed to him just being the biggest thing in the NBA. When one thinks of what LeBron did for Cleveland, the word renaissance is an exaggeration, but stimulus is definitely an understatement. A downtown revival occurred as people spent money on jerseys and local restaurants and more public works income was gained from increased taxes and sales at the stadium.

When LeBron left Cleveland, the city felt a huge loss of cash flow and watched the city begin to return to normal form. When LeBron left, $40 million was the projected loss of income to the city. People will not flock to watch whoever the Cavs can scrape together to fill a roster in the first year of their "dark ages." People will not go to the bar and drop $50 to watch their team become a laughing matter. LeBron's $2 million income tax paid to the state will be a rather large gap. Merchandise sales will plummet as no one even knows who is actually on the team.

Aside from the economy of a team, let us look at another aspect: simple supply and demand. How many people do you know who play a popular sport? How many of them are good enough to play in college? Professionally? The bracket of numbers you just gave was probably first a good chunk, then maybe 10, then 1 (that one person is only good in comparison with the people they are playing against).

I can throw a football 45 yards, I can crack a softball out of the park, and I can read a defense, so why don't you pay me super amounts of money to play? The answer is because I'm horrible at these sports in comparison to the pros. So are most of your friends and their friends. Granted, everyone has a cousin who spent some time in the minors to never make it to a MLB roster; people you know are simply not good enough for this job.

Great athletes who sell seats make good money. A-Rod, Christiano and Tiger Woods sell tickets and merchandise, and they draw attention. How about less noticeable players like Mike Fontenot? 2010 was his first million dollar year, compared to the usual $420,000 he made. Mike is most known for playing second or third and being compared to Theriot before the Cubs traded everything minus Wrigley this season. How does he hit? Alright. How does he play his position? Just fine. However, if you think of your friend who plays baseball the best, he doesn't come close to Fontenot.

A solid superstar player who makes multiple millions of dollars is a rare find as they possess intangibles in strength, speed, reaction time, the ability to stay cool in pressure and many other physical things I would opt for in my next life. There can only be so many players out there at a time, so strength per number instead of strength in numbers is the key. If the team wants to win, they need players who possess these intangibles, who in turn increase their income numbers and bring a city prestige.

Therefore, these players are not overpaid. They are just better than me, you, your most athletic friends and most of their colleagues. Entertainment, including sports, is one of America's biggest economic exports. Exports are one of those things that fuel our economy, so when it comes down to the bottom line, high-paid athletes get paid for the amount of money they generate through raw talent that everyone you know lacks. You don't have to watch any sports, but keep the hating to a minimum.

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