As player salaries go up, can the average fan relate?

At a time when many Americans are struggling to pay their bills, the salaries for pro athletes continues to rise and dwarf the rest of us. This story indicates that the average salary of a big league baseball player was $3.2 million in 2012.

Can the average fan relate to that?

The answer is probably no, but also I think we are desensitized somewhat to all the money in the sport because this is not new. Ballplayers have been making the big bucks for years. Now we throw around those figures involving millions and millions of dollars like we are talking about lunch money.

Do we bat an eye anymore when we hear that players like Josh Hamilton and Zack Greinke want more than $100 million in long-term deals?

The salary figures are now well-documented and it doesn’t take long for the numbers to surface when a player signs a new contract. Many times, the agents want the numbers to get out as they want everyone in the sport to see how much they got their guy. By the way, the story reports the average salary was about $2.4 million in 2003 so that is a nice increase since then for the players. As for the rest of the world, the cost of living seems to rise faster than wages.

An agent might respond that these are the elite players in all the world, the best of the best, and that the sport is doing very well financially. That is very true and the owners can afford to pay the salaries or they wouldn’t pay them. Some of the same owners or general managers that may complain about the salaries then seem to rush to spend when a player comes on the free agent market.

I’m sure some fans note which players make the most and that impacts their expectations for those players. Alex Rodriguez has a lot of money, but in a market like New York, you are expected to perform and seldom come up short when you make those kinds of dollars. I think it is fair that more is expected of the players who make the most.

To me, the shock value of player salaries has long since worn off for most of us. No one seems to complain when an actor or actress makes $20 million for one movie. We don’t avoid our favorite TV shows because some of the actors might be making more than a million bucks per episode. That is just the way it is.

What is your take?: How do you feel about player salaries? Is it harder now for fans to relate to players that make so much money? Should there be more pressure on the players that are paid the most?

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