Are sports stars paid too much? – athletes salaries questioned

It’s next season’s NBA opener–the New York Knicks against the Chicago Bulls. The score’s tied in the fourth quarter, with 8 seconds left on the clock. Knicks guard John Starks chucks up a desperation jump shot that turns into an air ball–6 seconds left. The Bulls’ Dennis Rodman grabs the rebound. He passes to Scottie Pippin at midcourt–4 seconds left. Pippin spots Michael Jordan racing ahead of him and passes–3 seconds, 2 seconds left. Jordan grabs the pass, rockets over Knicks center Patrick Ewing, and jams the ball through the hoop. The Bulls win!

Big Salaries

Exciting action like this thrills fans and makes athletes rich. Michael Jordan, for instance, gets $366,000 for playing just one game. Under his new contract, Jordan will make $30 million per year. Michael Jordan’s new contract and the skyrocketing salaries of other athletes are making many people question whether athletes are really worth so much when teachers, nurses, police, and other important workers remain relatively underpaid. The president of the United States earns $200,000 a year–less than Michael Jordan makes for one game.

Athletes as Stars

Supporters and sports experts, however, compare the athletes to movie and TV stars. “Sylvester Stallone is getting $20 million for one movie,” says Bulls coach Phil Jackson. “I can’t imagine why Michael Jordan isn’t worth $30 million in a season.”

According to sports industry experts, the entire sports industry is thriving, which entitles athletes to earn more money. “The sports industry is a $90 billion industry. Athletes’ incomes are only 5 percent of that,” says Werner Scott, a sports marketer.

Some sports fans fear that they will have to pay the price for escalating incomes. The L.A. Lakers, for instance, raised the price of their cheapest ticket from $9.50 to $21 after signing Shaquille O’Neal. Critics worry about the future of professional sports, especially of the NBA, if teams have to continue paying such high salaries.

What do you think? Do athletic superstars deserve to earn multimillion dollar paychecks? Why or why not?

COPYRIGHT 1996 Weekly Reader Corp.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group

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