Recently many athletes have signed lucrative contracts with unimaginable amount of money. Examples of this are Justin Verlander who is a pitcher for the Detroit Tigers just signed a contract that will pay him $180 million dollars over the next 7 years. Doing the math, that puts him at about $25.7 million a year. In 2007 Alex Rodriguez signed a contract with the Yankees for 10 years and $252 million dollars; this is the richest contract ever for any athlete still today. Forbes in their most recent list of highest paid athletes put boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. at number one reporting that he makes $85 million dollars a year. (http://www.forbes.com/athletes/list/) You may be wondering what this has to do with Rome, and that is a legitimate question.
In the Roman Empire, athletes participated in one of a few different events such as wrestling, chariot racing, or gladiatorial games. However, athletes in the Roman Empire did not hold the same social standing as athletes in our time. I’m going to focus on Gladiators which I am going to compare to athletes today. Gladiators were not the athletically gifted as they are today. They were often prisoners of war that would not accept Roman culture, slaves bought specifically for the purpose of fighting, or criminals that would serve their sentence by participating in the gladiatorial games. Occasionally free citizens would participate in the games but they were usually not high class citizens and would be social outcasts. The risk was high for the Gladiators; if they lost they most likely would not survive and would have their fate decided by the emperor or the judge of the games. If you were a loser and you were not executed you would be left with no social standing if you had any to begin with. You compare this to modern sports such as baseball where there are the largest contracts and if you lose a game in the regular season its not a big deal. Then for the Gladiators who won a couple of matches, their reward would be their freedom and a heightened social standing but they would not be given immense wealth like athletes now a days.
This is the basis for my question “Do athletes make too much money?” Back in the times of the Roman Empire if you lost a Gladiatorial match there was a possibility that you would survive if you fought well, but it was very unlikely that you would survive multiple losses. Last year the Chicago Cubs had a record of 61 wins and 101 losses which is a win percentage of 38%, so how does it make sense that Alfonso Soriano, an outfielder for the Cubs, made $19 million dollars last year. I’m not suggesting that the Cubs players should be executed because of all of their losses; I would suggest something such as giving them the same percentage of their salary as their win percentage for the season so that each game means more and that losing actually means they lose something. This still is not even nearly even the same as Gladiators because they would lose their life rather than some of their money. I would say that the only one that deserves all the money he makes is Floyd Mayweather Jr. because he is undefeated in his career in boxing and he participates in a sport that was around in the Roman Empire.
A final thing to consider is why modern athletes even get paid at all. I say this because in our times it is a privilege to play professional sports, so why should you get paid such a large amount for doing something you love so much? Shouldn’t we be paying our soldiers a lot more who are actually putting their lives on the line every day? These are just a few questions for you to ponder, and when you think about Gladiators in the Roman Empire and the compensation that they received, do athletes in our times make too much money?
How I Found my Sources: I knew the general figures for the contracts of the different athletes that I included in my blog, so I just googled them and confirmed them. But for the article I used for my information about Roman Gladiators I went to the alternative search engine duckduckgo.com and then I searched “Roman Gladiators” and picked the 6th site down. It was http://penelope.uchicago.edu/~grout/encyclopaedia_romana/gladiators/gladiators.html
which was an article in the Encyclopedia Romana written by the University of Chicago, and was a very objective article with no opinions and was just straight facts. So there was no author bias in the article.
– Skylar H.