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Did the money cycle spoil the players, and made them play for money in the first place?

One of the greatest players of all time, Michael Jordan signed the first NBA contract for only $550,000 in 1985, and the biggest one in 1998 for $33 million, all for Chicago Bulls. During his extraordinary career, he earned only $ 93 million.

Today there is an enormously big number of players that earn that much money in only one contract. The leading player today in “making money” is Stephen Curry with a five-year-long contract for Golden State Warriors, during which he will earn $201.2 million.

“The key to making sense of these increases as well as the nature of the sport today is to understand the money cycle. The mass media have been an integral part of making the money cycle possible. The media provide the means for advertisers to inject huge amounts of money into the cycle. Also, the media provide so much continual exposure for professional as well as college sporting events that millions of people have made a sport as an essential ritual in their lives. Media has transformed hundreds of athletes into celebrities who can themselves command big payments – for endorsing the products of commercial advertisers in addition to playing their games.” (Potter, Media literacy)

The money cycle has five components, first athletic talent demands higher salaries plus bonuses each year. Why? Because a star player is a great investment.

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Second, the owners of teams are willing to pay a lot for players. “Not only can star players help their teams win but more importantly they can also bring fans out to the stadium and even more important, attract television viewers for their games. This greatly increases the value of the franchise.” (Potter, Media literacy)

Then television networks compete against one another to attract fans, so they pay a lot for the right to telecast the game because that’s how the network gets stronger.

In fourth place are advertisers of a certain product. They find sports fans desirable. They pay sports telecasting networks, magazines, websites, and even to a sports section of newspapers to reach their audience.

And the last, but the most important are we, the public, we follow our favorite sports teams, we tolerate the commercial interruptions and buy products. We consider certain sports events as highly entertaining so we watch even if we don’t have a favorite team.

When all the segments cooperate well, the cycle attracts more money.

The cycle keeps going around and around each time a player requires a higher salary, which demands more income for owners and leagues. Next, they bid for bigger contracts form television networks, which must charge more for commercial time to advertisers, who want a larger audience. The audience wants more exciting games, and that requires better players, who want more money, and so the cycle continues.


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