Professional athletes are paid in keeping with the money they make for the sports they play, the team owners, etc.
Athlete's pay should be seen in relation to their role in the business they participate in, not in relation to the fact that they play games for a living (which is not the best way to look at professional sports/athletics, in my opinion. These are games, but the people playing them are rare and gifted individuals.)
We also probably shouldn't compare athletic pay to the pay rates in other professions. Pro sports might be best compared to the careers of professional artists (painters and musicians). The special talents that separate the professionals from the amateurs in these cases cannot be quantified, not exactly, and so setting a pay limit ends up being arbitrary and, I feel, misses the point.
That being said, I would not be against a public profit sharing system wherein sports insititutions, which rely so much on public support, share a significant percent of their profits with the towns that support them.
If the fans stopped the money flow, the salaries would have to stop rising. But every time someone buys a ticket to a game, watches a pay-per-view game on TV, or purchases licensed merchandise, they are contributing to those salaries. The 100+ million people who watched the superbowl all helped support the reasoning behind those huge salaries.
Free enterprise systems don't really have a mechanism to limit someone's salary. The best you can hope for is that those at the top of thescale pay their fair share of taxes.
Much has been said about this in the UK with the salary that footballers receive. Of course, we could all argue that such a salary is gratuitous and unnecessary. Certainly it does seem rather over the top that a football player can earn in one week what most people earn in one year. However, at the end of the day, we could argue that footballers wouldn't receive such a salary if football wasn't such a popular sport in the UK. Our support of football leads to their inflated salaries.
I agree that athletes make way too much. And often times they are like spoiled brats. This is understandable, because many of them are young. Some get drafted right out of high school. With this stated, we need to realize that sports make a lot of money. So, we need to ask ourselves if athletes do not make the money, then where should all the money go? I disagree that it should go to corporate fat-cats. So, as it stands, there seems to be no better option.
Well, the salaries of athletes is a reflection of society's priorities. It's a difficult question to answer because everything is based on supply and demand. People demand to be entertained by athletes, actors, etc., and if the demand is there, money can be collected and poured into many forms of entertainment to make money. Is it crazy to pay such enormous amounts of money to entertainers? Absolutely, but I don't see how this can be controlled. We love to see sports stars: there is such grace in a "hail Mary" pass, a three-point shot that doesn't touch the rim and a home-run.
Are there people who could use the millions that are spent in sports and on making movies? There is no question. While I don't see that you can ever turn the trend around, wouldn't it be nice if sports franchises donated even a half of a percent of their earnings to cancer research, or that a portion of box office earnings could be allocated to educating children, providing health care to children whose parents cannot afford it, or developing community run after-school programs for children of working parents. How about help for seniors? More police and firemen? Subsidizing health care? Protecting the environment?
Unfortunately, the spread of wealth does not include most of the population in the U.S. I do agree that it's crazy, but it would be impossible to try to control what pro-athletes are paid. People will not stop supporting the game of choice, and until that happens, athletes will continue to be paid like gods.
Professional sports are a billion dollar industry in this country and are a huge force in our national economy. It isn't just the team that benefits from these athletes and their games. Local economies depend on big sports too. Salaries for the athletes are really just a "drop in the bucket" when seen in light of all of the money that professional athletics are ultimately about.
I tend to agree that many professional athletes are overpaid, and this contributes to many of their incredibly inflated egos (see NBA). But, as mentioned earlier, we live in a free market system, and it would be foolish for the top stars to not seriously consider the millions they are offered.
They are paid what the market will bear. As a sports fan myself, I'm being a bit hypocritical in saying that the salaries paid to top athletes are more of a reflection of our priorities than anything about them. But post 4 is correct, for every multi-million dollar athlete, there is a journeyman or a scout team player who isn't exactly raking it in.
I think some athletes are paid too much and will continue to be paid at those levels until fans stop buying tickets to games and merchandise. Not all athletes are paid exorbitant salaries although those are often the ones we hear on the news. Minor league baseball players are barely paid enough to live on as they wait for the big payoff that won't come for most of them. Even on the major leagues (NFL, NBA, etc) there are still players on the team who are paid no where near the salaries of the "top" players.
Our system is a free market system in which people are paid according to supply and demand. Athletes are paid huge salaries because few people are able to do what they do and because many people want to watch them perform. We pay their salaries by subscribing to ESPN and by buying their jerseys and by buying products from companies that advertise on telecasts of the games.
If we don't like the amount of money they make (and I, for one, don't really have a problem with it) we are free to stop doing all of those things. If we stop watching, they'll stop making all that money.
I agree that most professional athletes are overpaid, and often times they do act like spoiled brats. It is not uncommon to see that once an athlete's contract is up, they move on to a different team than the one they played for before simply because the new team is offering them more money. It is hard to find players with true loyalty to their teams.
That being said, we must put some of the blame for these huge salaries on ourselves, the fans. If we didn't pay to go watch a game, or buy jerseys, T-shirts, etc, the professional team would lose a lot of money. This would cause salaries to drop, and other things such as the amount of apparel and such made and sold.
Hope this helps!