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The Doctor Chris Mueller
Featured Columnist
March 4, 2012

In my lifetime, I have seen strikes and lockouts from just about every major sport, and they all argue over the same basic thing: money. The NBA, NFL and MLB are the most notable when it comes to disputes over salary.


With players and coaches asking for more perks and pay, it makes you wonder if they are already making more money than they are worth. It also begs the question of how you measure a player's value in dollars and cents.

In this article, I will explore both sides of the argument.  Whether or not athletes are overpaid is not for me to decide; this is simply to see what all of you think.

Each sport is different in how they pay their athletes, and the difference in salaries from one player to another can be in the tens of millions o
f dollars.

In a time when many Americans are struggling to make mortgage payments, student loan payments and find good employment, it sometimes becomes frustrating to hear about someone who makes millions playing a game demand more money and then get it.

If you look at it subjectively, it is hard to deny something that I think a lot of people will think: Most athletes are overpaid.

Let me run down some statistics for you to back up the argument before going any further. I will use Chicago-based teams as an example, since I am from Illinois. These numbers do not include endorsement deals or any bonuses.

  • The highest paid Bears player made over 13 million dollars in 2011

  • The highest paid Cubs player will make 19 million dollars in 2012

  • The highest paid Bulls player will make 13.5 million dollars in 2012

  • The highest paid Blackhawks player will make 6.3 million dollars in 2012

  • The lowest paid Bears player made $330,000 in 2011

  • The lowest paid Cubs player will make $417,000 in 2012

  • The lowest paid Bulls player will make about $850,000 in 2012

  • The lowest paid Blackhawks player will make $512,000 in 2012

  • The average Bears player made about 2 million dollars in 2011

  • The average Cubs player will make over 6 million dollars in 2012

  • The average Bulls player will make just under 5 million dollars in 2012

  • The average Blackhawks player will make just over 2.7 million dollars in 2012

These numbers certainly make me realize a few things.  Different sports pay very differently, athletes are separated in salary by very large margins and many athletes are overpaid.

Now, allow me to give you some examples of how much some people in non-sports industries make each year. These numbers may vary depending on the specific area of expertise.

Here is the other side of the argument: Aren't we, the fans, the ones who dictate how much money these guys make in the first place?

I have gladly shelled out up to $75 for a ticket to a game, and I have bought officially licensed team hoodies and travel mugs for more than I am willing to admit.

We are the ones who are willing to keep giving more of our hard-earned money to attend games in person, buy over-priced beer and food and wear the jerseys of our favorite athletes.

If we stopped going to games and buying officially-licensed merchandise, then these numbers would obviously have to go down to balance out the budget.

When we make the decision that it is worth it to pay a day's wages to attend a three-hour game and cheer till we loose our voices, then we are telling these athletes that they are worth every penny they make, and maybe in the minds of some people, they are worth it.

Many people get inspired by athletes and end up doing great things on their own, and inspiration is not something which can be priced and stocked at Wal-Mart next to the soda.

If you find any kind of inspiration from someone else, then there is no way to put a value on how that person has positively affected your life, especially if that inspiration drives you to do something fantastic.
There are also other reasons these guys and gals get paid the big bucks, and one thing in particular that affects many athletes, both during and after their pro career, is injuries.

Health insurance companies will either deny these men and women outright, or give them coverage which will not actually help the cost of knee or hip-replacement surgery, for example.

According to, the average knee-replacement surgery for someone without insurance is between $35,000 and $40,000.

This is not including physical therapy, follow-up exams and surgeries to replace any parts needed on the synthetic joint. This is just one scenario where a huge expense might pop up for an athlete.
With most athletes putting their bodies through the ringer each and every time they play, it is likely that at some point they will incur some kind of high-cost medical bill.

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