Sports With The Highest Average Salary

By Mark Allan on June 1 2020 in Sports

Steph Curry, NBA player of the Golden State Warriors
Steph Curry, NBA player of the Golden State Warriors
  • Top Earner in 2019 was Lionel Messi at $127 million
  • Average career length for a pro football players is 3.5 years
  • Tiger Woods earned $69 million in 2002

Professional sports generate revenue through ticket sales, merchandise sales, and other avenues like copyrights and viewing rights. The athletes create a lot of this income; without these people, there would be no sports, and having no sports equals no revenue. Different professional sports have different ways to spread the revenue fairly to their players. Here are some of the highest average salaries per year in today's professional sports.

5. Football (NFL)

Surprisingly coming in with the lowest average salary on this list is American Football. The average salary for an NFL player is $860,000.  The average season length is also the lowest at a mere 3.5 seasons, which is a factor in its average salaries. Although the average wage is below $1 million, the highest-paid player today in the NFL is Russel Wilson, Quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks. Russel's contract has him taking in $140 million over four years.

4. Ice Hockey (NHL)

The NHL is one of the few professional leagues with a salary cap and revenue sharing going 50-50 between players and owners. The average salary for a professional ice hockey player in the NHL is around $4 million. With the salary cap determining the highest-paid player relatively changes every season. For the 2019-2020 season, the highest-paid player was Mitch Marner of the Toronto Maple leafs with a contract of $16 million.

3. Soccer

There are numerous Soccer leagues around the world, but the average UEFA player salary is $7 million. A lot of different factors in how players are paid for different leagues. The countries tax system and league rules can limit how much a club can pay its players. In 2019 Lionel Messi topped Forbes top earners list with a salary of $127 million.  The top 3 wages on the list were those of soccer players.

2. Baseball (MLB)

America's favorite pass time comes in at number 3 on our list. An average MLB player makes $ 4.5 Million. Many players start their MLB careers in one of the 240 minor league systems earning only $1,000 to $3,000 a month but with an almost certainty of one day making it to the big leagues. Making peanuts in the minors does have a pay off once you get called up. The Average salary maybe $4.5 million, but the highest-paid MLB player in 2019 was Los Angeles Angels' Center Fielder Mike Trout with an annual salary of $35.54 million on a 12-year contract for $426,500,000.

1. Basketball

Top off our list of sports with the highest average salaries is basketball. The NBA is no doubt one of the best leagues that market individual players. Paying their players well makes them the face of the brand of their teams. The average salary for an NBA player is $7.5 Million. At this salary, they are the highest-paid players in the world. It doesn't just stop at the NBA. In other basketball associations like FIBA, CBA, ABL, and The East Asia League, all their players make the highest salaries compared to their counterparts. Lebron James' contract as the highest-paid player in the NBA was a four year $154 million deal. With his endorsements, James' annual salary tops $90 million.  

Honorable mention: Cricket & Golf

Cricket is not a popular sport in North-America but can be arguably the most in the rest of the world. The top earner, according to The Cricket Monthly, the top earner in international play, was Australia's captain Steven Smith. When you add in all of the season play and international play, the average salary of a cricket player can be upwards to $4.7 million.

Although golf's average player salary is $628,000, its star pro, Tiger Woods, still holds a record of being on Forbes wealthiest athletes list 11 times. His first time reaching the top in 2002 had him earning $69 million.

More in Sports