- A Look At Salaries and Longevity in Pro Sports

Some Facts You Might Be Surprised By

As lockouts loom on the horizon for two sports leagues, it might be time to look at a few facts about the issues facing the players and owners.  One, of course, is players’ salaries.  Below you can see the average salaries for players in the major sports in America:

  • National Football League $1.3 million
  • National Basketball Ass.   $5.2 million
  • Major League Baseball     $3.1 million
  • Major League Soccer        $130,000
  • National Hockey League  $2.6 million

Without a doubt these are good salaries, certainly more than the salaries of 99% of sports fans across America.  Arguments can be made for both sides in the dispute but the bottom line in any profession is that salaries depend solely on what the market can bear.  In a free capitalistic society salaries are in direct proportion to revenues made and if they are not then the market will adjust.  And that adjustment period is what we are seeing as part of the dispute between owners and players.

Another reality is that the average playing life of a professional athlete is a short one.  Due mainly to injuries but sometimes due to the natural order of things, players have a pretty short shelf life in professional sports.  The table below gives you some idea regarding this fact:

  • National Football League 3.8 years
  • National Basketball Ass.   4.7 years
  • Major League Baseball     5.6 years
  • Major League Soccer        6.0 years
  • National Hockey League  5.5 years

As with any statistics, these figures can be a bit misleading.  The natural assumption looking at these two tables is that if a player in the NFL makes $1.3 million and has a career of 3.8 years, then during his career before injury or leaving for other reasons, he will have made close to five million dollars before retirement from the sport.  Remember that these are averages so one needs to consider that a rookie in the NFL, unless they are a first round pick, is not making $1.3 million, so the career earnings are less than five million dollars.

A perfect example of all this is Brandon Roy of the Portland Trailblazers of the NBA.  Rookie of the Year in 2006-2007, Roy was a stalwart on the Trailblazers, twice voted to the All-NBA Team and averaged over 20 pts per game for the first four years of his career.  Then came a knee injury, considered career-threatening, and it appears this season that the prognosis was correct and Roy may be forced to retire.

So what’s the point of all of this?  Simply that yes, professional athletes make good money, but they only make what the economic times allow and they do, in fact, have a very short career on average.  The lavish lifestyles of the professional athlete are impressive to see but without proper financial planning it can all come crumbling down as quickly as it takes to tear cartilage in a knee.  The number of professional athletes who have had to declare bankruptcy is remarkable considering the salaries they earn, a fact that should be remembered by all in professional sports.

We at have the best interests of the professional athlete in mind.  We work hard to help you through the transitional period following relocation and we find the best deals for you in the financial world.  Visit our website at and find out what we can do for you.

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