No, athletes are not over paid.
The camp that says athletes are in no way overpaid makes several good points. Professional athletes, while it may seem as though they only play a game, spend the vast majority of their year working out, practicing, and spending hours and hours a day under extreme physical duress in order to improve their bodies and their level of skill. They eat restrictive diets, and live under the rule of a draconian personal trainer.
Athletes also put themselves at great physical risk. Football players, for instance, can receive life-altering injuries in the course of a game, but they do so anyway. A single one of these injuries is enough to end their career, and potentially make them unable to work for the rest of their lives. Many people see this as reason enough for the massive amounts of pay they receive, but then there is another aspect to what professional athletes bring: entertainment and distraction. For most, watching the game is a way to relax. It's a way to bond with family and friends and forget about the cares and troubles of the world for a bit. Some would say that is priceless on its own.
Yes, they are overpaid.
The camp that argues that athletes should not be paid as much as they are also brings up several good points. While athletes do provide entertainment and distraction, they make ten times more what the President makes – the man in charge of running the free world, whether he's doing a great job of it or not. None of the government officials, whose jobs are arguably more important than that of any tennis or baseball player, make anywhere near the same amount of money, at least not from their positions. Any additional income they generate is due to their own personal investments and endeavors.
The main argument is that athletes are not actually public servants, and that entertainment can come from other sources. Firemen, policemen, and the armed forces should all be paid much more than they are because of the service they provide; these men and women serve to protect society against troubles and heartache, but barely make enough to get by sometimes. In addition, these men and women serve as good role models for children, where athletes are often in the headlines for domestic troubles, substance abuse, and more. For instance, take Justin Bieber: he is paid millions to make a mess of his career, spitting off balconies and sleeping with prostitutes. While he isn't an athlete, the logic is the same. He's a poor role model, contributes nothing to society, but makes more than any doctor can ever hope to make.
So are athletes paid too much? Yes and no. The answer depends on your perspective; if civil servants were paid fairly, then the answer would be no. Firemen, policemen, doctors, etc. should all be paid around the same level as professional athletes, if not a bit more. However, since this is not the case, then yes. Athletes are paid entirely too much money. Most of them could lose half of their income and still make more in a year than many people make in a lifetime.
Sarah writes for all pro about sports and news.