Don’t expect sports salaries and spending to go down anytime soon

By looking at our generation through sports-tinted glasses, it is easy to see what has defined sports throughout our years. Has it been Tiger Woods winning major after major? Has it been Lance Armstrong and his seven Tour De France victories? The answer is no. Spending on sports and sports entertainment has been what has defined sports in our generation. Sports salaries and spending have reached an all-time high. According to the article, “Sport Business in the Next Decade: A General Overview of Expected Trends” in the 2001 issue of the Journal of Sport Management, the sports industry grew to $213 billion in the 1990s. That’s not the only amazing number. Sports advertising went up to $5.24 billion, while the market value of an NFL franchise went up to as much as $800 million. Player salaries went up, as well. The average NBA player makes about $2.3 million. For baseball, that number is $1.7 million and for football, it’s only $996,000. With numbers like that, it’s easy to see that either Americans love their sports or are just plain nuts. Luckily, it’s a mixture of both, but that love of sports is everywhere you look nowadays. When you turn on the television, there is always at least one sporting event on somewhere, and that’s happening even if you cut out ESPN. Kids are raised today to be involved in sports. Parents are obsessed with getting their kids into sports and getting them into the pros so that they can make the big money. That obsession has done nothing but fuel the sports industry even more. That is why the spending is not likely to go down anytime soon. Sure, there could be economic struggles ahead. That is always likely to affect spending across any front, especially in sports. There could be plenty of issues that come up in the future, but for the most part, it looks like sports spending is here to stay. There is a reason why the NCAA is making $6 billion off of CBS. That reason is because of excellent marketing tactics. Back in the ’70s and ’80s, people loved the NCAA college basketball tournament. The difference is that those people were only men. Today, everybody loves watching the tournament. CBS and the NCAA has built up the Cinderella upset appeal and tapped into almost everybody. People love to see upsets and thrilling games, and when CBS switches the games around so that you can see the best upsets, then even women and children get into basketball. Now, take that tournament love and transfer it to another generation and another generation. Pretty soon it’s about $10 billion and $20 billion being paid for the rights to the tournament. Now go to football-the new American pastime-and you see more money than ever. What’s being done with that money? It’s going right back into the players. How can you explain the fact that Nate Clements of the Buffalo Bills got $80 million this off-season and became the highest-paid defensive player ever? Is it based on merit? The answer is no considering that Clements is not even close to being a Hall-of-Fame caliber player. With more money, sports has become an arms-race, and teams are more equipped than ever to dish out the dough. While the NFL has a salary cap and does prevent extremely inordinate amounts of total team spending, Major League Baseball doesn’t. That’s why the Yankees are spending over $100 million on their roster and the Florida Marlins only $15 million. This arms-race is lighting up player salaries extremely fast, and it’s not going to slow down unless these sports go bust like the NHL. That is why when one looks at our generation and they want to know what we contributed to the sporting world, one has to look no further than giant mansions and state-of-the-art arenas and stadiums.