By Matt Pressman
First and foremost, professional athletes who participate in sports like football, basketball, baseball, hockey etc. have to be paid what they deserve, simply because they play for a professional sports team. It’s like being employed with a real job, only you make millions, starting from your rookie contract.
It also seems like the higher your draft stock is, the more you get paid. Take Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry, for example. He was the fifth overall draft pick in 2010 and signed a six-year, $60 million rookie contract, thus making him the highest paid safety in NFL history.
Sometimes, professional athletes play well enough for one or multiple seasons to earn a rich extension in their contract. After the 2011-12 NFL season, New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski signed a six-year, $54 million extension, which was the largest contract extension at his playing position. The problem is, more than enough athletes are getting paid too much, given that some have received lucrative contracts and more money could be donated to those in need and/or to those who are constantly working hard to make the world a better place.
Evidently, obvious reasons should be taken into account. Professional athletes you see today are entertaining crowds, trying to help their team win games, and making millions by playing hard. Meanwhile, people like doctors, firefighters, law enforcers, and even soldiers are being paid way less to save lives. Most of those people put their lives on the line in disastrous events like shootouts, arson, and even wars to save others, yet they don’t seem to be getting the salary they deserve.
The economy may be rough right now, and professional sports may be a business for millions, but we should at least more often consider what those people have done for us. Some of those athletes might not even be alive today if it weren’t for those who fought and gave their lives for us.
In addition, the soldiers currently serving in the military are especially important people to consider. Unlike athletes, what our soldiers are doing are occupations for survival. They don’t just save our lives, but also help to preserve the rights of athletes. In fact, both athletes and soldiers are generally away from their families and friends due to their occupations. However, athletes typically are away for a long enough time to miss events like birthdays, holidays, and other special occasions. Soldiers normally have to be away for as long as half a year to two years, or maybe longer. They basically have no relaxation period until they can take leave, unlike an off-season for an athlete.
When it comes to athletes receiving immense amounts of contract money, there are many wonders as to what that particular player will do will all that extra cash. In 2014, Miami Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton signed the most lucrative contract in sports history—a 13-year, $325 million extension. Every year his salary will increase as long as he’s with the Marlins. If he can find ways to know what to do with that money, perhaps he could donate some of it for philanthropy, to help the less fortunate, form charities, or maybe even potential renovations for the Marlins’ baseball stadium or anywhere else in South Florida.
Other athletes who earned big extensions could try using some of their money for those purposes, if they haven’t yet. Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, who recently received a five-year, $40.5 million extension, could do the same thing for the city of Philadelphia. Also, Detroit could certainly use a great amount of help since the city is basically bankrupt and mainly relies on motors and its local sports teams. Whether or not Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson retires from football, he should use some of that eight-year, $132 million extension he received in 2012 to assist Detroit with renovations and other required needs.
In fact, as a Red Sox fan myself, I sometimes wonder what David Price will do with that seven-year, $217 million contract Boston gave him in December. If there are still some repairs that need to be made due to the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombings, he should definitely donate some of his money for assistance.
It’s not just the fact that a lot of athletes are overpaid, but you wouldn’t even need that much money to make the slightest of a living once you’re retired from your particular sport. Most athletes don’t even have too many expenses to worry about while most non-athletes have to work more than twice as hard to pay theirs off. If you have a giant salary and only receive your money by exercising and contributing to the team you play for, you should at least give away $5-10 million of it to help people, especially the ones who fight to serve our country. The donated money would definitely help wounded veterans cover their insurance and medical bills.
On the bright side, some athletes are willing to help others out before they’re officially in the pros. For example, former Florida Gators cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III, who is a potential top ten draft pick, recently pledged to use the NFL Combine (his vertical jump) to raise money for Stand by the Wounded, an organization that supports vets, military personnel, and first responders. At least there are some athletes who want to use a portion of their money to make a difference, especially ones who want to fulfill the same purpose before they’re drafted by a professional sports team.
All in all, professional athletes still deserve their money since they’re playing hard for their teams, but there are more than plenty of other individuals who work hard to provide for their families, keep the country running, and even risking their lives to save others. They’re not even paid close to an eighth of what a lot of professional athletes receive. If more athletes can use a good fraction of their money to help others and make the world a better place, then not only would there be less controversy over salaries, but society would greatly improve.