Scoring the Big Bucks

When we think about athletics, there are a few different areas in which athletes fall: amateur, collegiate, and professional athletes.  While looking into these three areas, we can see that economics takes on a different role in each.  At the amateur level, money is seen through the lens of the athlete paying for instruction.  The collegiate level is typically viewed as an athlete being payed to attend a certain school where the athlete will help the school reach a certain success point for the school.  The professional level is the place where ability and success is directly related to the athletes income as well as the profit the sports industry receives from that athlete.

Data has been collected over the years documenting the highest revenue producing athletic programs.  In 2013, University of Texas documented that their sports program successfully generated $163.3 million.  $25 million of this was profit for the school’s athletic department.  Not only did this revenue account for an increase in viewership which led to a deal with ESPN for their very own network, but the revenue has helped the market in Austin.  In this case, we can see how despite the fact that these athletes are not deemed professional or the best of all time, a lot of money is made from these teams thus enhancing the economies in which the sports surround.  There is a different side to look at when it comes to money and collegiate athletes.  Big schools like the University of Texas often give out athletic scholarships to their athletes, the school is paying for their education.  Although this money probably comes out of the profit generated, in the long run, the price of the students education is only a small fraction of what the athlete could make for the school if the team is successful.


The University of Texas marching band at a football game.

On the professional level, the amount of money made is drastically higher.  In 2013, it was documented that the whole sports industry brings in about $16.3 billion per year (this does not include part of the economic activity that comes from Super Bowl Sunday).  This accounts for around 456,000 jobs.  All of this money comes from fans buying tickets to a sporting event to see your favorite athlete, but this is not the only money you will spend because chances are you have to buy a shirt or some other sort of paraphernalia in order to “rep” your athlete.  On top of all this, you probably tuned into some sort of media to watch this athlete/team because you realistically can’t attend every game in person.  If you put all this together, you get the sports industry profit.


Kevin Durant playing for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Looking at the professional athletes themselves, we can not only see the amount of money they make for the sports industry, but the amount of money they make for themselves.  Take Kevin Durant for example, he was named the 2014 Most Valued Player of the Year in the NBA.  As of June 2014, his earnings reached $32 million.  This 25-year-old makes $14 million from endorsements and his salary reached a high of $17.9 million.  Despite his large salary, Durant is only the number 20 on the world’s highest paid athletes.  Durant also brings us back to looking at the collegiate level.  Durant himself was a basketball player for the University of Texas.

The amount of money these athletes are making is tremendously high and not only do the athletes make a lot of money, but the athletes make a lot of money for their endorsers and for the sports industry.  The sports industry is a huge part of the market we live in and impacts all of our lives in ways that we often can’t even see.

Work Cited:

Burrow, Gwen. “Not Just a Game: The Impact of Sports on U.S. Economy.” EMSI. N.p., 9 July 2013. Web. 21 Sept. 2014.

Forbes. “#33 Kevin Durant (Celebrity 100).” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, June 2014. Web. 21 Sept. 2014.

Nitin Bhandari, Nitin. “Top 10 High-Revenue College Sports Programs.” TheRichest The Worlds Most Entertaining Site Top 10 HighRevenue College Sports Programs Comments. N.p., 20 Dec. 2013. Web. 21 Sept. 2014.


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