By Tyler Lemco
This year, LeBron James made over $60,000,000, Cristiano Ronaldo made almost $80,000,000, and Floyd “Money” Mayweather made $300,000,000 (mostly in one night). That’s all within the past year. Athletes are making such absurd sums of money; it’s easy to say that they’re over-paid when we work our butts off to earn a negligible fraction of that amount. Well, guess what? They deserve every damn penny.
First thing’s first: for those of you who claim “athletes shouldn’t be making so much more than our doctors, firemen, teachers and other more important positions,” you’re wrong. You’re wrong because with the right education, practically anyone can fill one of those roles. If I went to school my entire life to be a doctor, then I’d probably be a doctor right about now. Or at least I’d be close. Whether you’re becoming a doctor or a pro athlete, it requires the same level of dedication and hours spent. The only difference is in the odds. If you put 20,000 hours into being a doctor, then you’ll probably be a doctor. If you put 20,000 hours into making the NBA, then you have about 0.0000001% odds of making it to the NBA (I’m guess-timating).
The threshold to entry is so close to impossible for pro athletes that it makes the profession infinitely more valuable. The fact that not just anyone can do it, and you need to be blessed with an otherworldly talent in order to participate, makes it worth the money. Nobody is paying hundreds to thousands of dollars to watch a teacher grade tests. Nobody is showing up hours early to an open clinic to catch a glimpse of the doctor walking into the office. Kids don’t have posters on their walls of their favorite psychologist or have valuable signed playing cards of the world’s best cardiologist.
Here’s another thing: the world of sport is a billion-dollar industry. Between ticket sales, merchandise, television deals, concessions and everything in between, owners make an absurd amount of money off these franchises. It’s only right that the ones giving their blood, sweat and tears to the game are the ones reaping at least some of the benefits. It isn’t fair if thousands of fans head out to see their favorite team, but the rich, old owner is the one who gets the profits. If a fan is willing to spend money on a player, then that player deserves that money. They’ve earned it.
It’s similar to a musician. Obviously, multiple people need to be making money, but when a Taylor Swift goes on tour, she’s bound to make her fair share. Thousands of people are willing to spend money to see her, and in all fairness, her publicist, her manager, the venue, her dancers, the technicians, and everyone else in the show will make the money they deserve, but she should be making the most because she’s the one that those people are there to see. She’s the attraction. The same logic applies to sports.
LeBron James is one of the most popular athletes on earth. He will bring out legions and legions of fans (and haters, alike) in every city he visits because people want to see him. He deserves to make more than Random Bench Player X or the owner of the team he plays for. He’s LeBron James and nobody else on the planet can accomplish what he does. He’s one of a kind and should be compensated accordingly. As should all pro athletes because they can do your job way better than you can do theirs.
Tyler is a fan of the San Antonio Spurs and the Baltimore Ravens. He is a writer from Montreal, Canada and enjoys cheeseburgers, sports, music, and double cheeseburgers. Follow him on Twitter and every other social media @tlemco