Just Listen For A Second: Athlete Salaries
May 18, 2019
Leave fortune out of fame
For some, it may come as a sigh of relief—Russell Wilson was recently signed on as the Seahawks’ quarterback for the next four years. But at what cost?
Well, his extended contract generously allotted him 140 million dollars, making him the highest paid player in the NFL. And as if that’s not enough already, Wilson was awarded an additional 65 million dollars as a signing bonus. Over the four years that Wilson’s contract lasts, his annual income becomes 35 million dollars each year—nearly 33 million more than what most Americans make throughout their entire lifetime.
Now, it is worth noting that professional athletes can be quite philanthropic. For example, Wilson regularly visits children at Seattle Children’s Hospital, and other celebrities have a history of donating millions to charitable organizations. But, these donations only make up a small proportion of the shear amount of money originally made by these athletes.
And it’s not difficult to imagine what types of extravagant luxuries these stacks will be spent on: perhaps a state-of-the-art Ferrari, a famous painting, or even a tropical resort. These are all nice but completely unnecessary, and the money could reasonably be put to much better use.
In fact, professional athletes should not even be paid these excessive amounts of money in the first place. An athlete could still enjoy a luxurious lifestyle with a reduced annual salary of just five million dollars instead of 35 without resulting in unreasonable and careless spending. Instead the money could be put into programs and organisations that provide resources to directly help those most in need.
However, some claim that 140 million dollars is simply what a professional football player like Wilson deserves to make. If the demand is there in the form of fans purchasing tickets, jerseys, and game memorabilia, the players should be paid an amount equivalent to the millions their product is making.
But, there is a moral component to this rather than just some basic economic laws.
Simply because the American public values an object, it does not mean that that product is worth millions of dollars. Even in the case of a professional athlete, fame does not need to be accompanied by excessive fortune while the majority of hard-working individuals are left in the dust.
You get what you deserve
Why do companies pay employees to do work for them? They pay them because they need something done, and getting that thing done will help the companies make more money.
And why do people pay so much money for expensive artwork or fancy cars? Because that art or those cars are rare, and rarity can make things valuable.
So if you combine those two things, uniqueness and the ability to make you money what do you get? You get an employee that is worth a lot of money.
That’s what professional sports players are. They are employees of a company, their team, and they are there to compete and make money for their team.
The better they are, typically, the more money they get paid. That’s because the better they are, typically, the more money they make for the team.
That’s why Russell Wilson’s four-year contract with the Seahawks, giving him 140 million dollars, is not as ludicrous as it sounds. Wilson is one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL and part of a team worth 2.58 billion dollars. Russell Wilson is a large part of that worth. His name sells jersey’s and his playing sells tickets. He is one of the main reasons the Seahawks are able to go to the playoffs and a contributing factor to them having won a Super Bowl.
All these are things that make the Seahawks money: a massive amount of money. So if Wilson, or any other professional athlete, is responsible for helping make their team a ridiculous amount of money, shouldn’t they be getting their fair cut of that money?
The same can be said for any other profession. You pay people based on their worth to you, how much money they can make you. Professional athletes make their teams a lot of money, therefore they deserve to be paid a lot.
The idea of uniqueness also comes into play. Professional athletes are one in millions, the really good ones are one in a billion. They are masters of their craft, the only ones that can do it as well as they do.
Nobody is going to pay money to see me throw a football 15 yards and miss my target by five. But they will pay to see Russell Wilson throw a touchdown pass.
Professional athletes are paid proportional to their value to the team, and that is fair.