In the wake of COVID-19, I have seen a handful of posts (mostly WhatsApp BCs from my father) suggesting doctors should earn more than professional athletes and even those in the entertainment industry. Well, should they? The short answer is NO! Anything besides that is simply an emotional response bereft of facts. Here’s the long answer. You didn’t listen in Economics class.
Value is not inherent but rather how much people are willing to pay for something. In that light, professional athletes are more valuable than doctors simply because people are willing to pay ridiculous prices to watch them perform.
According to a 2011 release by the BBC, there were over a million requests for tickets to an 80,000-capacity stadium. The event? The London Olympics Men’s 100m final most likely to feature Usain Bolt. These tickets went for up to £750 in initial sales and eventually went way up. According to the Office for National Statistics, the median weekly income for full-time employees in the UK is £550. Let that sink in. Over a week’s wage for one sporting event in a calendar year full of them is what people are willing to pay.
Also, broadcasting rights, sponsorships and endorsements, and merchandise sales completely dwarf the already massive amounts raked in from ticket sales. I promise, you’ve never seen these many zeros. No matter how important their work is, doctors just don’t bring in this kind of money. A medical procedure might cost millions but how many people need it? of those, how many can pay?
This brings us to demand. Effective demand is a consumer’s desire to purchase and also the ability to pay for a good. You might think the demand for medical professionals surely outweighs that of sportspeople but the 3.5 billion estimated audience from the Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup would beg to differ. It’s just absolutely crushing. The number of people that desire the services of doctors is just nowhere close and even fewer people can afford it.
According to a journal published by the National Center for Biotechnical Information, the average retirement age for doctors in the US is 64.9 years. By age 30, most athletes are well beyond their prime with retirement imminent. Basically, shorter time to make money. Even with such limited time, sportspeople risk potentially career ending injuries daily from training and competition. Besides communicable diseases and a couple of other hazards, it would take a freak Dr. Strange moment to end a doctor’s career without hope of redemption.
Considering these, it is pretty easy to see why sportspeople deserve to earn more than doctors although I also think doctors should earn more than they already earn and be compensated better. I mean, they are saving lives. Whatever you think about this though, be sure to leave your opinion in the comments below.
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