The Ultimate Cash Prize

By Thomas Bulow

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5 seconds are left on the clock. The Vikings are down by 1.

Vikings quarterback Case Keenum snaps the ball and drops back. Stormed by defenders, he hurls the ball deep, desperately hoping for magic. Stefon Diggs leaps up like a jaguar. He makes the touchdown grab, securing the Vikings spot in the championship!

These thrills and adrenaline are what sports fans love and in return, make athletes affluent. But how much is a touchdown really worth? What about a clutch 3 point shot? How about nailing a 90th minute free kick to win the league title?

Undoubtedly but unnecessarily, professional sports teams think these athletes are worth a great deal, as demonstrated by the increasing number of ridiculous million dollar contracts these athletes are receiving. As a result, the parley over whether these salaries are adequate remains unsettled today; nevertheless, when comparing these supersized salaries to the subsidiary stipends the majority of the working class make, no dubiousness exists that they must be lessened.

To begin with, Jesse Spector, a writer for ‘The Sporting News,’ stated: “playing games for a living isn’t worth those million-dollar wages.” Moreover, digging deeper below the surface, you uncover hidden secrets behind these blockbuster contracts. Believe it or not, the players’ salaries have a massive effect on the team’s ticket prices; as seen in 1996 when the Los Angeles Lakers signed Shaquille O’Neal. As a result, the cheapest ticket prices rocketed from $9.50 to $21. What is the point of stacking your team with colossal contracts if none of your fans can afford a ticket to go support?

Another preposterous reality of these contracts are that they are earned even if the athlete sits on the bench for the whole season. In 2011, Derrick Rose was a roaring lion, the Michael Jordan of his team and won the imposing MVP award. Following this, he received a five-year contract extension worth a whopping $94.8 million. Just a short four months later, he tore his ACL and seldom played over the next three years. After he recovered, he had lost much of his talent, but had raked in all that money without even playing.

Subsequent to locking in a $100 million contract with the New Orleans Saints, Drew Brees conceded that “unless you’re finding a cure for cancer or creating world peace, I don’t know if anybody deserves to get that much money.” To put that number into context, approximately half of the US households make less than $56,000 in a year. 100 million dollars is almost 1800 times that, meaning one person playing games for a living makes the same amount as a small town. Unbelievable.

No question prevails that more dangerous jobs exist than being a pro athlete. Imagine kissing your family goodbye every morning, doubting whether you will see them again. Loggers, fishermen, pilots and more often leave their homes with this plagued thought in mind. The facts speak for themselves. For every 100,000 workers in these jobs, the death rates are 91, 75 and 51, respectively. For athletes, the death rate is 1 per 100,000. The average logger’s salary is $35,000 annually, a mere 0.007% of the $5.15 million the average NBA player makes. The danger posed in their jobs requires an unmatchable level of bravery that few people have. They risk their lives and provide more valuable services to society, but only make a fraction of what athletes make.

Athletes’ salaries are ridiculous and must be modulated. Nevertheless, with the salary caps continuously rising, it’s easy for players to receive these salaries. But what if this weren’t the case? What if society balanced the scales?

With a change like that, society, the crowd, sure would go wild.


Works Cited

  1. Anastasia, Laura. “Are pro Athletes Paid Too Much? Supersized Salaries Spark Debate over Player’s Pay.” Gale: Opposing Viewpoints in Context, 23 Feb. 2015,
  2. “Are Sports Stars Paid Too Much?” Gale: Opposing Viewpoints in Context, 23 Sept. 1996,
  3. Bowen, Fred. “Who’s to Blame for Athletes’ Salaries? We Are.” Gale: Opposing Viewpoints in Context, 27 July 2017,
  4. Neto, Guilherme. “The Top 25 Highest Salaries in Sports in 2013-2014.”FinanceNews24.Com, Finance 24 News, 3 Aug. 2017,
  5. “Source: New Deal for Derrick Rose.” ESPN, ESPN Internet Ventures, 21 Dec. 2011,
  6. Alfano, Peter. “The Wages Of Congress And Athletes.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 10 Feb. 1989,
  7. Koppett, Leonard. “Issue and Debate.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 4 May 1976,


One thought on “The Ultimate Cash Prize

  1. Tanmay G.

    This is truly a really powerful piece. It gets the message across succinctly while also making us reflect on consumer culture. You make really valid points and I think this is definitely something to discuss further. Great article!

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