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Jordan Clarkson. (Photo via Erik Drost | CC BY 2.0)

Mendenhall: Professional Athletes Make Too Much D*mn Money

January 3, 2023


Dating back to the sixth century B.C., we showered athletes with expensive gifts and high social status, sometimes commissioning statues in their honor. Since the birth of the first professional football team in 1896, we’ve only further elevated professional athletes and their entertaining abilities.

These incredibly skilled individuals may be the best of the best, but we’ve entered an era in which we over-glorify them and put them on extremely high pedestals. An athlete’s skill should be recognized and appreciated, but not at the ridiculous expense of millions of dollars.

Professional athletes don’t deserve to be idolized with highly-inflated salaries.

They Make How Much?

The most popular professional American sports leagues have different average salaries. With the exception of Major League Soccer, all leagues average above $2.69 million. MLS players make about $312,470 on average, only because they don’t have as much popularity in the U.S. These salaries also differentiate between team members. Standout players that set records and play championship games will usually receive much more than their lesser-known teammates.

For the 2022-23 season, Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry will be the highest paid NBA player, with a salary of $48 million. Aaron Rogers of the Green Bay Packers will make $50 million this year alone. New York Mets player Max Scherzer will average a $43.3 million paycheck, and the highest paid NHL player, Nathan MacKinnon, will bring home $12.6 million. Other professional athletes, like Premier League soccer players, are paid $3.9 million per year on average.

The media scrutinizes professional athletes that live a frivolous life and incur lifestyle inflation, an increase in spending as one’s income increases. Throughout his boxing career, Mike Tyson had a net worth around $400 million dollars. Tyson was notorious for spending substantial amounts of money on cars, houses, pigeons and tigers. Sharing with The Pivot in 2003, Tyson said, “The money didn’t run out right away, it took like 15 or 16 years for me to go broke. … Pure crazy stuff you can do with your money.”

Brand Endorsement Opportunities

Some of the highest paid athletes in the world have the most lucrative brand deals and endorsements. One of these athletes is Lionel Messi: he brings in $130 million per year from brand partnerships with Budweiser, Adidas and Pepsi, in addition to his yearly salary of $41 million.

Other athletes, such as Tom Brady, use their exorbitant amounts of money to create their own brands. Enter BRADY, his new athletic clothing line. An average American not making professional athlete-level money wouldn’t have the connections or resources to make a successful business right off the bat.

Popular brands that endorse high-profile athletes are willing to pay an absurd amount of money to boost their public image and stay relevant, meaning athletes can name their price for features in a company’s advertisement. This only adds fuel to the public’s promotion of professional athletes to “god-tier.”

Do They Deserve it?

If we’re going to idolize professional athletes, they better deserve it. I want to support athletes who impact their community in positive ways, like being a good role model for fans. One such athlete, Utah Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson, paid for the repairs and upgrades of a local Filipino food truck after it was vandalized. Clarkson also spent his first NBA off-season working with children in the Philippines.

Unfortunately, for every player that does good, there are bound to be some that don’t. Recently, there have been many professional sports players flouting rules and laws because they have the means to pay the fines that accompany them. Take Antonio Brown: he has a volatile history of lashing out against authority, violating the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy and has had multiple sexual assault allegations made against him. While Brown is now a free agent with slim chances of being re-signed, his past antics occurred while he was the highest-paid wide receiver.

MLB Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer was recently suspended for two full seasons after sexual assault allegations from three women. He was in direct violation of the MLB domestic violence/sexual assault policies. I’m grateful that the MLB took immediate action against Bauer, rather than giving him chance after chance like the NFL has given Brown. Prevalent cases of sexual assault and domestic violence should influence the public’s perception of how these athletes are, in fact, not above the law. When professional athletes can pay enormous fines for egregious violations as if it’s pocket change, you know they’re making too much.

We as the public will only continue to praise these individuals with each passing year, so it’s not a surprise that some players act out in negative ways. For how overcompensated professional sports players are, they need to be humbled, or at least held to higher standards if they want their insane salaries.


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About the Contributor
Photo of Addison Mendenhall
Addison Mendenhall, Assistant Opinion Editor

Addi is a Writing and Rhetoric major who is on her second year of working with the Chrony. She’s originally from Utah, but loved to travel anywhere outside of it. When she’s not writing or editing pieces, you can find her curled up with a good book, trying new restaurants, and exploring new travel destinations.

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