The average yearly salary for a professional athlete, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), was £51,649 in 2008. Though that is no paltry sum, it is highly skewed as an average because the professional athletes with the highest salaries make much more. While stars in other sports like golf (Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson), boxing (Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather), tennis (Roger Federer) are among the top earners, overall the professional athletes in the world who make the most money play basketball, baseball, cricket and soccer, respectively.
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Although the NFL dominates the minds and hearts of many sport fans in the United States, and though all 32 of its teams are among the world's top 50 highest valued teams / sports franchises, NFL players are not the players with the highest salaries. That title goes to NBA players. With an average salary of £3.63 million (2009-10), the players of the NBA are, on average, the highest-paid professional athletes in the world. The highest-paid players in the NBA make as much as £19 million per year, plus endorsements that can earn them tens of millions of dollars in addition to that.
Although many people in the U.S. do not even know what cricket is, it is the most popular sport in India. It is so popular, that the Indian Premier League, a professional cricket league, is the league with the second-highest-paid athletes in the world. Players in the IPL make an average salary of about £2.6 million per year. This is even more than the players of Major League Baseball, make in a year.
In the United States, players of Major League Baseball make some of the highest athletic salaries in the world. As of 2010, players make an average of $3.01 million per year. The New York Yankees, the winningest and most famous team in Major League Baseball, is the third-highest-valued sport franchise in the world --- after Manchester United and the Dallas Cowboys --- with a valuation of £1.0 billion. This high value translates to an average salary for its players that is much higher than the average for most other professional teams: New York Yankee players make an average of £4,943,209 per year.
Coming in fourth is the English Premier League, the first-tier soccer (or football) league in England. Players in the English Premier League make an average of £1.5 million per year. Manchester United, the EPL's most highly valued team, is also the most highly valued sport franchise in the world. The team has a total value of £1.1 billion.
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- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Professional Athlete; 2010
- NBC Action News: NFL teams dominate Forbes' list of Most Valuable Sports Teams; 2010
- NBA; Worldwide recession affects NBA salary cap for 2009-10, David Aldridge, 2009
- The Times of India: IPL 2nd highest-paid league, edges out EPL; 2010
- Forbes Magazine: Slide Show: The World's Most Valuable Sports Teams; 2010