BASSETERRE, St. Kitts - IT is a known fact that most popular sports, such as football, basketball and boxing, have become a billion-dollar industry and has seen some super salaries being paid to athletes. But the concern being expressed by many sports pundits is…“Has money spoiled ethics in sports?”
Many sports enthusiasts have varied opinions on how these large sums of money may impact the conduct of a particular sports discipline and also that of some athletes.
Today, many of these disciplines are tangled in a money-hungry web. Athletes’ revenue and owners’ profit seem to be top priority instead of adhering to the adage “It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, but how you play the game.”
What happened to the days when a professional athlete would have played a particular sport for the love of it, with decorum and without animosity, even if these gentlemanly qualities would have contributed to their financial loss?
Nowadays we see sports containing many lawsuits, huge profits as well as incidents that are absolutely destroying various forms of it, such as bribery, match fixing and the use of performance enhancement drugs.
The more money a sport gains the more it seems the practitioners of that discipline divert from the core values, and it seems the more likely there is to cheat. With large sums of money now available, players will be tempted to do that to enrich themselves.
But what has caused some of these sports disciplines to become so expensive? It is because of broadcasting rights that has caused TV networks to reap the benefits of players?
It is known that once sports combined with broadcasting, and especially television, audience inflation went from thousands inside stadiums to millions on the outside.
Sports broadcasting will allow for television networks to benefit from advertising that in turn goes back to the sports conglomerates involved.
The athletes themselves also benefit tremendously from Supreme Court decisions and federal legislation that were generally favorable to them negotiating a larger percentage of the tremendous revenue that was being produced by the combination of sports, entertainment and broadcasting.
Athletes have also been known to act out whenever they feel they deserve an increase in salary, while some would risk life and limb for money.
An ESPN “30 for 30” documentary highlighted the story of Muhammad Ali and Larry Holmes’ fight in Las Vegas on October 2, 1980.
The 38-year-old Ali was retired for a year, out of shape and already visibly slowing down when he was offered a title shot against Holmes. So why did he take the fight? “Money. That’s all it was, money. Greed,” says Wali Muhammad, Ali’s assistant trainer for the fight.
The epic tragedy that follows plays like the sad epilogue to the classic Ali documentary…’When We Were Kings’. An $8 million dollar purse got Ali into the fight. Poor advice, stubborn pride and Ali’s refusal to go down turned it into a beating that, according to some talking heads in the film, had permanent consequences on his health.
Athletes also make money by not just playing their respective game and also by just playing the game, but some fans and sponsors pressure them to 'sell themselves', going through long monotonous on the advertisers set and high profile party hours.
Regardless of which corner of the globe one lives, one can be assured that thousands of individuals will convene in one particular area, whether in a stadium or an arena while some may prefer to view it from the comfort of their home via a television set, to be entertained by athletes in the various sporting disciplines.
Tiger Woods recently became the world's first athlete to earn a billion dollars from prize money and endorsements. It would have taken the salary of 2 000 1980s professional golfers, each making $58 500 to match up with his current earning.
The following is a list of athletes with the highest earnings for 2012, according to therichest.org:
1. Floyd Mayweather
Total Earnings between June 2011 to June 2012 - $85M
Salary/winnings - $85M
2. Manny Pacquaio
Total Earnings between June 2011 to June 2012 - $62M
Salary/winnings - $56M
Endorsements - $6M (Monster Energy, Hennessy, Nike, Hewlett-Packard)
Sport - Boxing
Age – 33
3. Tiger Woods
Total Earnings between June 2011 to June 2012 - $59.4M
Salary/winnings - $4.4M
Endorsements - $55M (Nike)
Sport - Golf
Age - 36
Net Worth - $500M, as of September 2010, according to Forbes
4. LeBron James
Total Earnings between June 2011 to June 2012 - $53M
Salary/winnings - $13M
Endorsements - $40M ( Nike, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, State Farm and others)
Sport - Basketball
Age – 27
5. Roger Federer
Total Earnings between June 2011 to June 2012 - $52.7M
Salary/winnings - $7.7M
Endorsements - $45M (Nike, Rolex, Wilson, Credit Suisse)
Sport - Tennis
Age – 30
6. Kobe Bryant
Total Earnings between June 2011 to June 2012 - $52.3M
Salary/winnings - $20.3M
Endorsements - $32M
Sport - Basketball
Age - 33
7. Phil Mickelson
Total Earnings between June 2011 to June 2012 - $47.8M
Salary/winnings - $4.8M
Endorsements - $43M (Callaway, Barclay’s, KPMG, Exxon, Rolex, Amgen/Pfizer)
Sport – Golf
Age – 41
8. David Beckham
Total Earnings between June 2011 to June 2012 - $46M
Salary/winnings - $9M
Endorsements - $37M (Burger King, Sainsbury’s, Samsung)
Net Worth - £160M (US$260M) – As of April 2012, according to the Sunday Times Rich List
Sport - Football
Age – 37
9. Cristiano Ronaldo
Total Earnings between June 2011 to June 2012 - $42.5M
Endorsements - $22M (Nike, Castrol, Konami and others)
Sport – Football
Age – 27
10. Peyton Manning
Total Earnings between June 2011 to June 2012 - $42.4M
Salary/winnings - $32.4M
Endorsements - $10M (Reebok, Sony, Wheaties, DirecTV, Gatorade, Papa John’s)
Sport - Football (NFL)
Age - 36