In Defense of High Baseball Salaries


People often argue that athletes such as ball players are overpaid and that it reflects society’s inability to set priorities straight. If baseball is important or entertaining enough to such a large number people, then obviously there will be a large amount of cash flowing into the business. And unless people feel that owners are entitled to a greater sum of money, or unless people lower attendance in order to deflate ticket prices(and they probably should*), then player salaries will remain where they are.

In 2010 baseball generated $5.898 billion in revenue, and the average player salary was $3 328 894

. At 24 players per roster for 30 major league teams, it works out to a total of $2.06 billion, which means that about 41% of the money going into baseball through broadcasting, merchandise and ticket sales goes towards player salaries.

How does this compare to a different sector of society? A single school of 1500 students in Canada generates on average about $8.74 million dollars in “revenue” ($5,827 per student) from money transferred from tax payer to government to school boards. At an average teacher salary of $50 000, in a school of 1500 with a teacher-student ratio of 1:18, about 4.2 million dollars is spent on teacher salaries. This works out to about 48% of total revenue, more than what ball players get. Amounts spent per capita are comparable in the United States, and according to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were, in the year 2000, 48 million American school children aged between 6 and 18.

Compared to the $5.2 billion spent on baseball, Americans invested about $280 billion on their elementary and high school children, of which $134 billion goes to teachers. Baseball is only one of several professional sports, but then there is also a great deal more money spent on post secondary education. Suddenly the fact that some players earn  in 1 season as much as 400 teachers does not change the reality that Americans do spend at least 54 times more on education than on baseball.

            There are only a few professional ball players (720) compared to the country’s 2.7 million teachers, or only 1 baseball player for every 3750 teachers. With a pot that’s only 65 times smaller, obviously players will earn over 50 times more. After two years I was tenured as a teacher, and I could only lose my job by doing something terrible. If a ball player hits below .200 for a couple of seasons, he will not be earning the average salary, let alone be employed, for very long. While most salaries in society are adjusted to inflation, athletes’ salaries seem inflated. But in 1977 for example, only 25% of total revenue was going to players. In light of the correction of that injustice along with the exponential growth in revenue, the increases are far more understandable.