Are Athletes’ Wages Fair?

Athletes are paid significantly more than the average 9-5 worker, and certain athletes are paid more than 100 times the salary of the average worker.

Ella Marsden

Athletes are paid significantly more than the average 9-5 worker, and certain athletes are paid more than 100 times the salary of the average worker.

On average, athletes are paid significantly more than the average 9-5 worker. Given that athletes provide little to society, besides entertainment, that is an unbelievably large gap.

While professional sports are fun to watch, they aren’t necessary to the function and development of a society. Athletes should obviously get paid for playing their sport, but their salaries should not be so much greater than almost any other job.

According to, the average NBA player makes around $6.5 million this season, with some players making around five times that amount. Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry will make $34.7 million this year, and that number is only going to rise as the years go on. Although he is very talented and quite entertaining to watch, he is getting paid so much to do something that is merely a luxury; it’s not essential to a community’s survival.

Similar to other athletes, Curry understands that he is paid a very large amount, and he uses some of his money to help less-fortunate individuals. For example, he supports the Animal Rescue Foundation, NBA Cares, Nothing But Nets and the United Nations Foundation, according to Look to the Stars, an organization that tracks celebrities’ charitable giving.

A Registered Nurse (RN) in the United States makes, on average, $67,930 a year, according to the Nurse Salary Guide. This salary is moderate, and someone who makes this kind of money could live a comfortable life, but it is significantly less than that of a professional basketball player. On an average day, an RN might monitor patients and administer their medications, manage medical records, and consult with other healthcare providers. They do all of this crucial work while an athlete spends their time in a gym working out.

In Major League Baseball, the average player makes about $4.4 million per year, says Forbes. And then there’s Clayton Kershaw, a Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher who makes $33 million to throw a baseball while a nurse gets paid an average salary to do work that is vital to the development of a society and the survival of its members.

According to, the median annual salary for a public school teacher with a master’s degree is $54,801. In order to become a teacher with these credentials, a person has to go to a minimum of four years of college to earn a bachelor’s degree in education and then continue in school to receive a master’s. That is four more years of schooling necessary than it takes to play in the NBA, even though those athletes receive a salary that is more than 100 times greater than a teacher’s.

The average salary of an NFL player is $2.1 million, according to Forbes. This might seem low, but that’s because there are so many players in the NFL, which makes the average noticeably lower than the salaries of the famous, highly paid players, such as Matthew Stafford.

Stafford is paid $52.5 million a year by the Detroit Lions to be their quarterback. This doesn’t include the $92 million he was guaranteed this year for endorsements from corporations or his $50-million signing bonus.

For a military recruit, the starting salary is $19,602 a year. While these individuals are provided with meals and housing, their families are not given everything necessary for a comfortable life. They are given health care, some financial assistance and counseling. They receive lots of assistance, but in the end, they still have to provide for themselves.

Typically, a person enters into the military as a young adult, so this person might have young kids at home. In order for their family to be financially stable, it is probably necessary for whichever parent still lives at home to get a job. Having a job and caring for a young child by one’s self can be very difficult, so these families might need to hire a nanny or pay for daycare.

This is a financial burden because whomever is still at home will be working hard and often while their kid is growing up in order to pay for daycare, food, a house or apartment, and basic things such as clothes and toiletries for themselves. Many people don’t think about how much these things collectively cost, but when everything is put in perspective, it is a lot more than someone might think.

On top of all of the basic purchases necessary, a young adult might be a recent college graduate or even still a student, so they could have student loans to pay off or homework to do. A low-paying job is not ideal for someone who needs to pay off debt on top of taking care of themselves and another.

The sports industry clearly generates a lot of revenue, so why can’t some of that money go towards paying deserving workers an appropriate salary? What if as little as five percent of that money was set aside, instead of being given to the players, for people who work hard every day towards the development and prosperity of society? If this was acted on, the wages of these people would be a lot more reasonable, but still not ideal, because athletes would still make significantly more than the average 9-5 worker.