Column: Show me the money!

Published 3:52 pm Friday, February 11, 2005

By Staff
Do professional athletes get paid too much? This has been an ongoing issue for years. The vote seems pretty split between yes and no. Some people think they deserve to be paid a lot, others say they just do it for the money and a lot of people just wonder "why?"
I don't think professional athletes do it for the money, though it is a nice bonus for being extremely talented at what you do.
Every single person who is a professional athlete, from the tallest standing center in the NBA, to the slowest driver in NASCAR, has worked most of their lives, if not all, to get where they have.
For some it just comes naturally, others were cut from their high school sports teams and some never even played on any team. They just spent their years practicing for what they knew they wanted to do.
Being a professional athlete doesn't come easy. Most have to be involved in college before they are even considered to the leagues. Most of them are record holders and all of them are scouted and picked from the best athletes in the world.
So do I think these athletes are overpaid? Absolutely not! It is their job to be good at these sports, it is their job to entertain us as viewers, and it is something they have worked so hard for. We pay big bucks to see them play, yet complain when they sign multi-million dollar contracts. Where else is all of the money going to go? The managers? The refs?
They are some of the best athletes in the world. They are role models for your children, well most of them anyway. A lot of them risk their futures, even their lives to do what they love.
Take Darryl Stingley formerly of the New England Patriots, for example, who was paralyzed from his neck down and forced to a wheelchair for the rest of his life after being tackled by Jack Tatum of the Oakland Raiders during a preseason football game in 1978.
Or Dale Earnhardt who lost his life when he hit the wall head on in the final turn of the Daytona 500 in 2001. My mother and her "NASCAR buddies" still have a hard time with his loss.
Think about it, the average nurse in the United States makes $45,000 a year; the average fireman, $33,000. Yet the lowest-paid Major League Baseball player makes around $300,000 per year, with many pro athletes signing contracts for 10 to 20 times that sum.
So why are we paying athletes so much more than somebody who could save our lives? Look at these facts:
There are millions of nurses, fireman, policeman, car sales man, and so on, in the United States alone. There are only about 750 Major League Baseball players. Now if there were only 750 nurses in the United States you can bet they would be signing multi-million dollar contracts.
Look at doctors. No, not your typical family doctor, your brain surgeons, doctors who perform operations never even heard of and are successful. These guys are making about the same as a pro athlete in a year. Why? Because there aren't as many of them in the United States, in the world for that matter. They are very good, very talented at what they do. There is a high demand for them and only certain individuals can perform these tasks.
Sports is such a demanding industry. It always has been and always will be. It has grown tremendously just in the past 20 years. And as with anything, if the demand is high, people will pay to keep it going.
There have been a lot of harsh articles and letters written about players and their salaries, but what are they proving? If you think about it, the entire industry makes millions, billions of dollars, not just the athletes. They are only getting a little piece of the pie. Why shouldn't they? If it weren't for them we wouldn't have sports to entertain us. Or it just wouldn't be as competitive or enjoyable.
Being a pro athlete requires endless amounts of work from childhood to adult hood. It isn't something that happens over night.
Everyone is paid what they are worth. It is no one's choice but your own as to how well you do in life. People shouldn't condem anyone for fullfilling their dreams. Unfortunately in todays society, we do.
Resources: The Injury Zone, MSU News