If I had a million dollars for every word in this article, I would still be poorer than MLB’s Mike Trout.
The Angels’ center fielder recently signed a 12-year contract extension for 430 million dollars, the largest sports contract in history, but not everyone is as lucky.
Being a professional athlete is a risky line of work and it should be rewarded accordingly. Injuries, short career life spans, and volatile player markets make it hard for the average pro to build enough of a fortune to last a lifetime.
This is even more of a problem in leagues like the NFL, where not every dollar of the contract is guaranteed. Benchmarks, like making the roster and completing a set list of season objectives, unlock the rest of the cash. These agreements may pay more, but the risk of physical trauma can result in a seven-figure loss.
This is the root cause behind former Steelers running back Le’veon Bell choosing not to play last season. Bell wanted a contract that included more guaranteed dollars to ensure he had financial security due to the rate at which he was being used on the field.
The majority of players, however, don’t have the same leverage when it comes to determining their salaries and take their respective league minimum. This usually lasts for three years which on average, means that pros retire with a little more than a million dollars.
This small fortune now has to be stretched as much as possible because most players didn’t finish college, they aren’t famous enough to go into broadcasting, and/or have injuries like CTE that prevent them from providing additional means for their families.
Athletes are entertainers, and if Jim Parsons from the Big Bang Theory can make 900,000 per episode, then surely North American sports leagues with their high television ratings can divert a small percentage of their billionaire revenues to ensure that their players are compensated appropriately for the sacrifices they made to play at the highest level.