Is It Right That Footballers Earn More Than Doctors?


And why I see nothing wrong with that if they actually do!

Photo by Jannes Glas on Unsplash

You must also have come across the argument and outrage in social media and debates. On why should footballers get paid way more than doctors for just kicking a ball. 

I, for one, not only find the argument but also the outrage unjustified. Before going into the why part, let me clarify that I have used doctors purely for comparison as they are the ones often being compared. Replace doctors with engineers or professors and the points still stand the same.

First of all, footballers do not get paid more than doctors!

Yes, you heard that right. Most of the time when these comparisons are made, people compare the average salary of doctors to the salary of absolute top-level footballers, the ones playing in top 5 European leagues usually. But people conveniently forget (or choose to ignore) that in most countries on earth, like my country Nepal, doctors actually earn way more than footballers.

Therefore, the comparison is biased from the start, as the median global salary — which is a fairer comparison — will any day be less than for footballers than doctors. 

Now, some might argue — Should top-class footballers get paid more than doctors? So, let me come to that.

Value does not decide the price, laws of Economics do!

It does seem logical to think why doctors — the more valuable cog of society — not earning more instead. But well, that is not how economics work. Let’s take the famous Diamond Water paradox. Unless you are comparing the entire water on earth versus the entire diamond, people value diamonds way more than water. Just like the scarce supply of diamonds compared to demand makes them more valuable, the same argument holds for top-level footballers. And yes, top-level footballers are difficult to produce compared to doctors, which I will come to next point. 

Also, if you have noticed, I haven’t even touched the money generation part, about footballers (and overall football) generating fortune that ensures the clubs can pay handsome wages. If a club like Manchester United generates 500 dollars in revenue annually, personally I would rather see footballers also get a big chunk of that than some billionaire owners alone.

It’s difficult to become a top-level footballer compared to a doctor! 

Yes, being a doctor is tough, as it means going through a rigorous process of academies, practice, competition, etc. But still, anyone with a normal IQ can be trained into the tried and tested fixed-route professions (like doctors, engineers, bankers, etc.) Whereas in comparison, it’s not as easy to just produce top-level footballers. Most people enrolled in Universities doing conventional degrees do come out with jobs; most kids enrolled in football academies ultimately get released.

Is it all fair though?

The argument of fairness can be looked up from two perspectives. 

If you look from the angle of class and income inequality across the world, football is actually the least vulnerable profession, as it is not only accessible to everyone (rich or poor irrespective) but also less riddled with bias and nepotism. Some of the highest-paid footballers in the world, the likes of Ronaldo, Messi, Neymar, Pogba, etc, all come from poor humble backgrounds! And that’s only possible because getting to the absolute top level in football is relatively fair.

Of course, it’s not that black and white with football also, as where you are born (whether in France or Nepal) also heavily shapes your path. But still, relative to other sports and domains, football is relatively less vulnerable to the class divide. 

The other “is it fair” perspective resides on “Why do people value kicking a ball so much?”, which I will discuss in the final argument below!

Why do people love value people kicking a ball!

This reminds me of my own self from the past, where I would make statements like “Why do people love Justin Bieber?”, which I now find not only unjustified but totally stupid in hindsight. People love what they want to love. If you do not love something, perfectly fine, just skip that thing. 

Parting thoughts! 

Are Doctors more valuable to society?

Yes, I do believe they are. So, the focus should rather be on if doctors are being paid well enough or not. Especially when it comes to the public service, the focus should be if the public money is being invested justifiably for health, education, and other valuable employees, rather than looking down on other professions and outraging on why they are earning more!

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