Opinion: Professional Athletes are Paid Too Much

Audrey Whitfield, Business Manager

Wouldn’t it be amazing to get paid approximately $50 million dollars a year for simply playing a game? A typical salary for a professional athlete in the United States ranges from 16 million to over 100 million dollars a year. While athletes do hold a special level of skill that the average person doesn’t have, there is no question that these athletes are being overpaid, and more important professions aren’t getting the pay they deserve. 

Professional athletes make way too much money in a country which maintains that people should be paid based on the value of their work and their cruciality to society. Of course, athletes are important because they provide entertainment and leisure time for the average citizen, but compared to professions such as teachers, doctors, and the military, these athletes are getting paid a tremendous amount of money; well out of proportion compared to every other profession.

Golden State Warrior player Stephen Curry and Los Angeles Lakers player Lebron James are both star players in the NBA, with an annual salary above $40 million dollars. Curry’s salary is $46 million a year, while James’s is $41 million a year. To put that into perspective, the average neurosurgeon’s salary in the United States is $633,001 as of Jan. 27, 2022, with a range typically falling between $476,601 and $800,901. Often to achieve these salaries, surgeons have been in practice for more than 20 years.

Neurosurgeons put in countless hours every day working to save and improve the lives of other people. Without neurosurgeons or any surgeon for that matter, people would die and not be able to live the best quality of life possible. So why are the people who are saving peoples lives every day getting paid almost $45 million less a year than professional athletes? 

According to Payscale.com, the U.S. Army pays its employees an average of $63,246 a year. Salaries in the U.S. Army typically range from an average of $33,140 to $119,522 a year. U.S. Army employees with the job title Chief Information Officer (CIO) make the most money, and that is still only an average annual salary of $136,309. 

Soldiers in the military risk their lives every single day in order for us to have the luxury of attending an NBA or NFL game. These people fight for our freedoms and do so by giving up so much of their own. They have to leave their families for extended periods of time, get put into highly dangerous situations, and often experience both long-lasting physical and mental issues following their service. 

Some people may argue that the military doesn’t need more pay, considering many of the everyday expenses they have are already paid for. However, this doesn’t account for the soldier’s family who they still have to support even when they are away on deployment. 

The President of the United States is in charge of making decisions that affect the entire world, and he only makes $400,000 a year. While the President is working hard every day to make sure the country is taken care of and governed appropriately, athletes are being paid 150 times as much to play a game that may not even last 2 hours. Stephen Curry gets paid more for playing one game than the President makes in an entire year. 

Another profession that is underpaid for the amount of work they contribute to society are teachers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2020 the median pay for a high school teacher was $62,870 annually. 

The future of the United States depends on the education of our youth. High school teachers prepare students for life outside of the classroom, and they teach students valuable lessons and skills that they then take with them to pursue professions in many different fields such as medical, law, or the military.

If it wasn’t for teachers giving students the knowledge that they need in order to be successful in life and become the future leaders of our country, the United States would go downhill very fast. Yet, a professional NBA player may earn the same amount as the average yearly salary of a teacher when they score a point.

Many families in America live paycheck to paycheck in order to take care of their families and meet their basic needs. It is not fair for these professional athletes to be getting paid so much when there are already so many economic issues between families in America. 

These athletes still continued to get paid the same during COVID-19, when they weren’t even playing any games, while many families struggled financially when they stopped getting paid or lost their jobs. Those are the people we should be putting money into, not a person whose job it is to simply entertain. 

Not only are athletes getting paid millions of dollars an economic issue, but it’s also a loyalty and dedication problem. Some players will change teams for an extra million dollars, leaving behind their communities and loyal fans in the process. Lower pay could minimize this issue and make players more loyal to their teams. 

There are a wide range of reasons why professional athletes are being paid way too much money and it’s important to recognize these reasons and come up with ways to resolve them.