Understanding the money gap

Why are star players in different sports paid so differently?

By Davie Wong, Sports Editor


It’s been an exciting off season across the board of sports. Several massive contract extension have lined up the opportunity for this article! In particular, I’ll be looking at the Connor McDavid contract extension, and the Stephen Curry contract extensions.

In many ways, McDavid and Curry play similar roles for their teams and organizations. McDavid has quickly become the face of the Edmonton Oilers since being drafted two years ago, and has nearly single handedly lead the team back into the playoffs and being Stanley Cup contenders. While he is no Crosby, with this contact extension, he’s paid just as much as him. In total, he’s set to make an average of 12.5 million dollars of over the next 8 years.

Now compare him to Stephen Curry, who recently received a 200 million dollar contract extension that will pay him an average of 40 million over the next 5 years. Both players are elite athletes with similar positions within their respective organizations and leagues. Yet why does Curry make more than three times as much as McDavid? Or better yet, why do NBA player make much more than NHL players in general?

For many, it’s a money gap that simply doesn’t make sense. However, it’s a whole lot more common than you would think. Stephen Curry makes 40 million annually. Lionel Messi makes 40 million euro annually, and that’s without his bonuses throughout several competitions. It’s more like 60 million euro in a good year, which is about 70 and a half million US dollars. And this is still without sponsorships and endorsement deals on both ends. At the end of the day, they both make tons of money. But why do soccer players make more than any athlete in the world?

Well it really comes down to the state of the league. The NHL and NFL are limited under a salary cap, which set the total amount a team can be spending on the salaries of a players. Furthermore, the NHL has a maximum for which players can make in salary money. Obviously this is a huge contributor to the pay gap between sports.

The NBA also has a salary cap, but unlike the aforementioned NFL and NHL, it is not a hard cap. Teams can surpass the salary cap if the organization pays a luxury tax that is split amongst the league. This is why players like Curry are able to make 40 million dollars annually.

Bridging the gap over the big lake, European football clubs play without a salary cap, unlike their American counterparts. So the pay range for a player is nearly limitless. Sure, there are economical rules that govern the leagues, but for the most part, the money keeps flowing. Players also often get bonuses based on a team’s performance in certain leagues or competitions. This further increases a player’s salary, although it isn’t guaranteed. More opportunities to earn a large paycheque is the biggest differential for the money gap between North American athletes and European soccer players.

At a baseline, much of the money comes from the organization. Factors such as ticket prices, popularity, merchandise sales, television deals, sponsorships, and endorsements all contribute to the salary of a player. Though the pay gap exists, it’s reflective of how much money is coming into a league. Could we ever see a massive contract like Stephen Curry’s in the NHL? Maybe someday, but there’s a long way to go.

The Other Press

The Other Press, Douglas College's student newspaper since 1976. Articles, insight and updates from the New West and Coquitlam campuses.

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