Mike Kueber's Blog

May 27, 2012

Football is the king of sports

Filed under: Sports — Mike Kueber @ 8:42 pm
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They say that it is dangerous to discuss politics or religion because people tend to be opinionated and inflexible on those subjects.  My experience, however, is not consistent with that belief.  I have found that when you approach the subject thoughtfully and stay calm, other people usually reciprocate. 

In addition to politics and religion, another subject that can turn into a powder keg is sports.  In fact, many people are more opinionated and inflexible about sports than politics and religion combined.    

Yesterday in my apartment pool, I got into a wide-ranging conversation with some guys who obviously were left-of-center.  First, they expressed their love of hockey by opining that NHL hockey players deserve million-dollar salaries more than any other professional athletes.  I deftly defused their argument by pointing out that salaries for professional athletes in various sports have nothing to do with how tough the job is, but rather depends almost exclusively on how much money the sport is able to generate.  And everyone knows that the NFL is the king of money.

Unwilling to genuflect before the NFL, these left-of-center guys cleverly agreed that football is the king of money, but football of the soccer variety.  When I expressed my ignorance of how much money soccer generates or pays its players, they assured me that soccer generates more money and pays higher salaries.  Despite their assurances, I expressed my doubt based on America’s wealth and its love of sports.  In my mind, that is why America has to pay a king’s ransom to televise the Olympics while other countries pay a relative pittance. 

Eventually, my new friends and I agreed to disagree, but when I got home, I decided to confirm my suspicions by determining which professional teams were the most valuable and which athletes were paid the most.  The first item was easy to find.  Less than a year ago, Forbes magazine compiled a list of the 50 most valuable sports teams.  Although soccer team Manchester United heads the list at $1.86 billion, the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys are #2 at $1.81 billion, the NFL has 14 of the top 20, and all 32 NFL teams are in the top 50.  Soccer has eight teams in the top 50, while baseball has six.  Clearly, the NFL is the king.  

Forbes magazine also answered the question about which athletes are the highest paid.  According to Forbes, the highest paid athlete from May 2011 to May 2012 was boxer Manny Pacquaio at $67 million.  The top soccer guy was David Beckham, #7 at $46 million, while the top football guy was Peyton Manning, #8 at $42 million.  The top 17 was a motley assortment of five tennis players, three soccer guys, two NFLers, two boxers, two golfers, two basketballers, and one baseball player.  I think this information does not accurately reflect the dominance of the NFL because its compensation is spread over so many players on an NFL team.  An NFL roster consists of 53 players, while a major-league baseball team has 25, a soccer roster is about 20, and an NBA team has 12. 

Oh yeah, an NHL team has a roster of 22.  I almost forgot that this conversation started with my new friends’ love of hockey.  Unfortunately, hockey does not appear to generate much money, so the hard-working guys on skates don’t get on any high-dollar lists.  It just ain’t fair, but no one said that life is fair.


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