Pay is deserved even if ridiculous

Published 8:41 pm Thursday, July 2, 2009

The down economy is affecting everyone, even the highest paid athletes in the world.

Though it’s hard to feel sorry for men who make millions of dollars for throwing a football or dunking a basketball, the 50 highest paid athletes in the United States made less money this year compared to last.

Sports Illustrated has once again ranked the top-earning athletes, and according to the magazine, average annual earnings for the group was down $1.5 million.

These premiere athletes aren’t anywhere near the poorhouse, though. The average salary for athletes on the list is still $23.6 million.

Yes, that’s a lot of money, but believe it or not, I think athletes deserve however much they can get.

First of all, athletes can only work for so long. The Brett Favres and Michael Jordans aside, most professional athletes only work a limited amount of time. Ordinary people have their entire lives to work and earn money, but typically, athletes only get five, maybe 10 years, to do what they do best.

One busted knee or one too many concussions and an athlete finds himself unable to work. Many don’t finish college and don’t have a career to fall back on.

Second, a good chunk of an athlete’s pay comes from endorsements. As long as Nike or Pepsi wants to pay athletes millions of dollars, I’m fine with that.

Take Tiger Woods, the highest paid athlete in the world, for example. He earned $7.7 million in winnings last year, but $92 million from businesses to have him endorse products.

Finally, though there are some bad apples, many athletes give back to their communities with the money they earn. Jeff Gordon is No. 21 on the list and has raised $7 million for sick kids.

So, don’t hate on athletes. Their pay is oftentimes ridiculous, but we Americans love our sports and our players deserve whatever teams are willing to pay.