Flood Watch: Dollars and sense

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Nurses save lives, teachers educate the future and social workers help their neighbor in need. Professional athletes, on the other hand, play games for a living. So how on earth can someone say it’s reasonable that those in noble professions make less – significantly less – than professional athletes? Pretty easily, actually.

Hey you, reading this column, can you hit a 99 mph four-seam fastball three times out of 10, shoot 35 percent from the three-point line or stop a 250-pound man running at you 20 miles per hour? I’m guessing not, because you’re not in the MLB, NBA or NFL. But I bet you know the name of someone who can do some of these things, and I bet you that they’re making over $1 million a year.

So here I am, arguing that doctors and teachers can’t hit a 99 mph two-seamer for a .300 average, when nurses, teachers and social workers are arguing that pro athletes can’t teach or perform surgery. Fair assessment. However, is a school going to generate millions of dollars worth of revenue every time a teacher teaches, or is a hospital going to sell out of replica lab coats that doctors wear? I’m guessing not. However, you know what is going to do their own version of both of those things? That’s right, professional sports organizations.

According to Forbes, the Cleveland Cavaliers generate $233 million in revenue each year, or $81 in revenue per fan. Their star player, LeBron James, makes approximately $31 million each year. Being the most recognized basketball player in the world and the main source of revenue for the Cavs, his salary is completely appropriate.

I think the only argument against professional athletes’ salaries is the disparity between wages of men’s and women’s international teams. For example, at the World Cup stage, the United States men’s and women’s soccer teams should be dollar for dollar as seats are being filled. One of the purposes of the event is for international unity. However, I think that’s as far as it goes.

Unpopular opinion: women in the WNBA are appropriately paid less than men in the NBA. Not because they don’t work as hard or because they don’t have as much talent; nothing like that. It’s because of how effective players are at their jobs. Essentially, a professional athlete’s first job is to fill seats, followed by sell merchandise, increase brand recognition, etc. The fact of the matter is that NBA games sell significantly more in tickets and merchandise and have greater brand recognition than teams in the WNBA.

The bottom line really comes down to this: in a for-profit business, employees who bring in more money for the organization will be paid more. That not only covers the disparity between men’s and women’s sports, but the difference between sports as well. The best male badminton player isn’t garnering as much yearly income as the best female basketball player, showing that it is more so the for-profit business community than it is a male versus female issue.

The same thing goes for nurses, teachers and social workers. Once those jobs start bringing in millions of dollars of revenue like professional athletes, then they should make as much money as them. When making that argument, I’m not saying that professional athletes contribute more to the betterment of society than nurses, or that playing a game is harder than being a nurse. I’m not arguing what people should ethically be making, I’m arguing that there is very sound business reasoning behind why people are making what they’re making. Now, do I think society has it right when we base almost all of our decisions off of finances and profit? That’s a totally different article.

So next time someone brings up wages, sports or that statistic they found online, shed some light on the situation.

If you take a deeper look and figure out why the things are why they are, the world might make a little more sense to you. But if you feel like you’re not making enough money, call me up, and we’ll work on throwing that 12-6 curveball and making it to the big leagues.