Polls / June 19, 2012

Do you think high-profile, international sports stars (such as footballers) are overpaid?

High-profile international sports stars – such as footballers – are overpaid, according to more than 80% of respondents to an eZonomics online poll.

Earning the average
There’s no question that some high-profile footballers earn a huge amount of money. But before setting your sights on making a fortune as a striker or goal keeper, take a moment to take a closer look at the numbers – including the number of aspiring athletes who miss out. Sports and economics author Simon Kuper writes in an article for eZonomics’ Cup-o-nomics series that the big difference between average and median wages in Italy’s Serie A demonstrates how a large slice of the financial rewards goes to just a few top performers.

Kuper says the average is about EUR900,000 compared with the median of about EUR500,000. Still a huge sum, but the stars command the greatest share. Kuper writes: "The same dynamic now operates in professions from law to music: a few star performers earn way more than everyone else."

Shall I play volleyball instead?
Such high earnings can bias decisions on which career to follow. In his Ask Ian blogpost on why footballers are paid more than volleyballers, ING senior economist Ian Bright says important decisions should be based on complete information rather than what appears attractive from first impressions.

“Our views are swayed by the information that is eye catching or salient – hence the term salience bias,” he writes. “This is a problem not only in deciding whether to try out for the local football team or to spend the extra hours on the golf course in the hope of breaking into the big time. It can also affect the decisions we make in deciding which career to follow.”


eZonomics team
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