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goose756's avatar

When and why did professional athletes start making so much money?

Asked by goose756 (655points) April 20th, 2011

Just curious. They make an outrageous amount of money, some make more in a year than one person might make in a lifetime. When did this start happening, and why?

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11 Answers

tedd's avatar

When businessmen realized they could make tons of money off of “selling” the games that the public wanted to watch (be it baseball, football, whatever), they “bought” the services of the pro athletes so as to eliminate competition and insure they were getting all the money flooding into pro sports.

The problem is businessmen aren’t going to just say, oh well that athlete already makes $60,000 a year so he’s overpaid and I’m not going to pay him more than that simply because he’ll make me millions of dollars. So the businessmen compete with one another, and the highest bidder wins.

Essentially pro-athletes are paid outrageous sums of money to “play” games, because those games bring in billions of dollars, and the “owners” of those games need to pay them the most money to keep them from going to competitors.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Wasn’t here a court decision in the 70’s that allowed free agency? Prior to that they were kept under contracts, but with free agency players could go to the highest bidder at the end of their contract if they weren’t resigned by the current team. And the owners egos took over from ther.

Randy's avatar

The easiest answer is that the professional sports industry is a HUGE money maker because there are millions upon millions of sports fans. Even people that aren’t real fans occasionally enjoy a game or buy some some sports apparel. All the wealth of the industry trickles down to the players.

Another reason players are paid so much is the crazy amount of training they have to do. When you look at professional sports, you see the games. Yes, that’s important because it’s what’s seen and what gets teams/owners/players recognized but what you don’t see are the hours and hours and hours that are put in during the week in the form of practices, weight lifting, cardio, team meetings and so on. Most athletes eat, breath and dream the sport they play. They don’t wake up, go to work for 8 hours, then come home to relax and eat dinner with their families. Even in their time off they’re expected to stay active and sharp so that they can properly perform. If you’ve ever gone to the gym for a while with plans of getting fit, you quickly realize that it can easily become a full time job just to keep your body in shape not to mention the crazy amount of money it can cost.

marinelife's avatar

A long time ago. Babe Ruth made more than the President in his day.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@marinelife What is the presidents salary now? I was thinking $250000 but that’s an old number.

CBrennan15's avatar

@marinelife pretty sure a good amount of athletes make a TON more than the president today

ucme's avatar

They’re in the entertainment industry, no one blinks twice at the enormous salaries commanded by actors. They deserve what they earn, I see no difference.

CBrennan15's avatar

It’s all about how many people want to watch these things. As many have alluded to on this thread, Millions of fans watch professional sports, especially the Big4 (Basketball, Football, Baseball, Hockey). That means they spend a ton of money on tickets, jerseys, etc. The players have to see some of that. Also, once a player gets popular/productive, a team will pay them MORE to keep them around.

@ucme A VERYYY small percentage of actors make the big bucks. Most actors have regular day jobs and struggle to get by, and only SOME live comfortably. The rich actors are by far in the minority. However, rich athletes are much more abundant

ucme's avatar

@CBrennan15 See I was referring to those at the top end of the wage scale, as was the intent of the question. Another factor to bear in mind is that a sports persons career is only too short. Serious injury could & does shorten this span even more. In my opinion they make what they can while they can, good luck to them.

marinelife's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe “The president earns a $400,000 annual salary, along with a $50,000 annual expense account, a $100,000 non-taxable travel account and $19,000 for entertainment.[36” Wikipedia

@CBrennan15 You are correct!

Dutchess_III's avatar

They realized that consumers will pay for it.

It’s like the cosmetics industry….

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