A week ago, ESPN released answers to a survey they conducted with 123 MLS players. Two questions stood out to me. The first, was “You’re commissioner for a day. What’s the one thing you’d change about the MLS?” The top answer? 44 percent of the players said that salaries are the one thing that they would change. The next question stood out as well. “Are MLS players currently being paid fairly?” The answer: 84 percent responded saying no. Player responses were pretty surprising as well. “Guys have to know that if you do well in MLS, it can be a career. Right now, almost every single player in this league knows that this is one of two or four careers that we’re going to have because the wages just aren’t there yet,” one player said. Another player responded, “When you look at guys who leave this league and then they go to Scandinavia and make double or triple what they were making here, obviously the MLS guys are not being paid enough.”
I decided to look into how much players in the MLS make, compared to players in the NBA or NFL, since they are the “premier” sport leagues in the United States. The results were shocking. The minimum salary for a rookie NFL player is $435,000. The minimum salary for a rookie NBA player is $525,093. But the minimum salary for a MLS player? Just $60,000, and this is after it was raised from a paltry $36,000 the year before. Many professional soccer players have to take second or third jobs just to make ends meet if they are not one of the top athletes in the game.
Some arguments have stated that players are motivated by passion, not money, so paying them less is acceptable. Another states that the players should be happy to be a part of the process of building a league, that the reward is the journey itself. However, these are both incorrect. A professional athlete’s career is short, with about 15 years being a long, successful career. If a player stays in the league for 15 years, and only makes the minimum, then he still wouldn’t haven’t even made $1 million dollars. An NFL or NBA player would hit the $1 million mark in his second or third year in the league.
Professional athletes, including soccer players, generate a large amount of revenue. They have the right to be compensated a portion of that revenue, not just a paltry $60,000. Football players get a decent portion. So do basketball players. It’s time for players in the MLS to get the money that they deserve.
ESPN Staff. “MLS Player Poll: Salary Concerns, Promotion & Relegation, Prem Chances.” ESPNFC.com. N.p., 22 Mar. 2016. Web. 31 Mar. 2016. <http://www.espnfc.us/major-league-soccer/19/blog/post/2826676/2016-mls-anonymous-player-poll>.
Ginnitti, Michael. “NFL Minimum Salaries for 2015 and the Veteran Cap Benefit Rule.” The Daily Spot. N.p., 2 Feb. 2015. Web. 31 Mar. 2016. <https://www.spotrac.com/blog/nfl-minimum-salaries-for-2015-and-the-veteran-cap-benefit-rule/>.
Gordon, James P. “Six Things We Learned From The MLS Player Salary Data Dump.” Pastemagazine.com. N.p., 20 July 2015. Web. 31 Mar. 2016. <http://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2015/07/six-things-we-learned-from-the-mls-player-salary-d.html>.
Hoopshype Staff. “What’s the Minimum NBA Salary?” HoopsHype. N.p., 12 Oct. 2015. Web. 31 Mar. 2016. <http://hoopshype.com/2015/10/12/whats-the-minimum-nba-salary/>.
Madu, Zito. “There’s Nothing Charming About Major League Soccer Low-balling Its Talent.” Fusion. N.p., 19 Nov. 2014. Web. 31 Mar. 2016. <http://fusion.net/story/79996/mls-salaries-low-cba-negotiations/>.