Friday, July 21, 2017

Way Too Much Pay For Play

My how salaries of American professional  football players have changed.

Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins recently turned down a long-term contract offer of $53 million. In 1924, the Green Bay Packers payroll for the entire team was $12,000. The 1924 team consisted of 18 players.

Ah, but inflation changes the picture. Yes, but the 1924 dollars are equivalent to only $171,530 in 2016 dollars. That would be about $9,530 per player, hardly a living wage. Of course, the 1924 salary money was not divided equally. Curly Lambeau was the Packers' player-coach that year, and he certainly got a bigger share than most, of not all, of the other players. Players in those days had to have other sources of income to survive.

We don't know the details of Cousins' $53 million contract offer, except that both he and the team have said the money was guaranteed, and not dependent upon performance or other factors.  We do know that top star quarterbacks in the National Football League are paid in the $10 million to $15 million per year range. Although Cousins has shown considerable potential, he is not yet an established top star. So let's assume his offer was for 5 years.

Is Cousins, or any athlete, worth $10.6 million per year?

Those who contend that professional football players are worth their huge compensation packages point out that careers can be cut short by injury at any time and the players cause teams to make the huge profits that enable them to pay top dollars to compete for talent.

Hogwash. Pay for professional football players has become ridiculous. Although some top surgeons in the U.S. can earn $1 million per year, average earnings for doctors in family practices, who strive to help rather than hurt others, are in the $200,000 per year area. The salary of the president of the United States is $400,000 per year.
Racing toward self-destruction?

A large share of the income of professional football teams is revenue from television contracts. Nevertheless, game ticket prices have soared to levels as exorbitant as player salaries and costs for food and drink in stadiums are likewise elevated.

There is mounting concern in this country about inequality in incomes between the rich and all others. A start at correcting the situation could be made in pro sports by winding down salaries of wealthy players and using the savings to reduce the costs for Joe Fan by lowering outrageous prices for tickets, hot dogs, and beer.

The current salary situation is well on the way to making me an ex-fan, and declining attendance figures for some teams indicate many already have become former supporters. Pro football is on a path of self-destruction if  drastic changes are not made soon .


Rummuser said...

In India, the game is cricket. and the earnings of players are as mind boggling as yours are. It is a huge entertainment industry and any semblance to sports has effectively disappeared.

Tom Sightings said...

Well, I agree but what can you and I do about it? (I've never been to a pro football game) -- as long as (I'm told) there's a 20-year waiting list to get season tickets to Green Bay, and a friend who has season tickets doesn't even use them but instead resells them online for a tidy profit and so he'll never give them up. And here in New England, Tom Brady is considered nothing less than a god.

Dick Klade said...

Tom, although there are a few small signs of fans getting fed up--some teams don't sell out games all the time and a few have moved lately because they couldn't get enough fan-taxpayer support to build new stadiums--changing a culture takes a long time. I say this as a guy with a share of Packers stock hanging on the wall behind me and a son who has been on the Green Bay season ticket waiting list for about 15 years. I'm still a fan, but am rapidly losing enthusiasm for the whole setup. Unfortunately, we may be stuck with the overpaid "gods" during my lifetime.

PiedType said...

It's not yet as ridiculous as what great soccer players are paid in Europe. But it's getting there. As long as there are enough fans willing to pay for those tickets, the situation probably won't change.

joared said...

Frankly, I think the runaway pricing affects other professional sports, too, or at least baseball, possibly basketball. I think football has other issues, also, that are going to increase as more research and studies reveal CTE issues -- brain trauma. They're going to start looking more closely at the effects on youth. I imagine some parents are having second thoughts about allowing their young boys to play this contact sport so aggressively in the future. I've enjoyed watching football, but think more young men are going to have reservations about playing in the future when they consider what their life might be like when they're older.

My husband reported he was a very aggressive player in his youth, was expected to receive a scholarship to Ohio State, but WWII and health issues preempted that. May have had concussion, but definitely had a lot of head butting tackles. As I consider some of his symptoms, behavior changes, in the last few years before he died, I have serious reason to think CTE might have a causal element in some of his actions. I worked professionally with some Closed Head Trauma patients so can consider his behavioral changes with some insight. Soccer headers a problem, too.

Dick Klade said...

Joared, there is ample evidence that exorbitant pricing is causing major league baseball attendance to decline. Many fans are turning to watching minor league games, including my son and I. We've taken to attending Kalamazoo Growlers' games, where a prime ticket right behind home plate that includes all the food and drink one could want costs $29.00. Last I heard, a single beer at the home of the Chicago White Sox went for $6.00.

Yes, I think the concussion situation is going to have serious effects on football participation. Just talked to a pal who is a high school player. Last year, some 25 boys participated on the freshman team. This year just 15 showed up for the first junior varsity practice session.

Anonymous said...

British soccer star Wayne Rooney is paid £250,000 ($370,000) per week ! If he had moved to China, as was recently rumoured, he would have received £750,000 ($1,125,000) per week ! .. Un-bloody-believable !

Dick Klade said...