why do they tell us pro athletes' salaries?

This thread may get sent to the game room, but, depending on the answer, I thought it might be as much a business or policy question as one strictly about sports. So, why do sports teams reveal every detail of their players’ contracts? They’re neither public employees nor officers of publicly-traded corporations. What gives the average fan the right to know what they’re paid, when and under what stipulations? Is it merely a desire on the part of franchises to maintain a standard of transparency (ha)? Does it have anything to do with their monopoly exception?

Most professional leagues have rules about player compensation, so the contracts would have to be disclosed to them (and opposing teams so they know no one is cheating) anyway.

Also, players have an incentive to disclose their salaries, since a higher value gives them more prestige, and a strong negotiating position for endorsements.

Regarding salary cap figures, would it not suffice to inform league offices? Also MLB has no such restrictions, but Derek Jeter’s salary is a quick Google search away ($16 million.)

As for the ego aspect, what about the instance where a player must take a humbling pay cut?

I would guess it’s a byproduct of a few things:

  1. Many professional sports leagues have special exemptions (eg. antitrust) which would make them more accountable to the public

  2. Some are technically non-profit organizations, which means that many salaries and expenses must be disclosed. For example, the NFL is a 501©6 organization.

  3. Some players unions require that all salaries and compensation amounts be available to all those involved in negotiations between the unions and the leagues. That would include agents, managers, etc. If the information is available to that many people, there is really no point in keeping it a secret.

  4. Since many towns, cities, and states subsidize their professional teams, due diligence would likely dictate that they have access to the teams broad financial information, which would mean it’s no longer a secret.

It’s also worth noting that we rarely SEE an actual contract, or know the details within a given contract. Mostly, what you get are bullet-points, which makes me think they are not legally required to disclose everything, but rather that they see no reason to protect the info.

It just seems like there’s almost a requirement to disclose. We always know all the terms of a deal before they’re even signed. Hell, we often know the terms of every offer made to players at about the same time the player is reviewing. This doesn’t seem like something that happens merely because teams don’t bother protecting such info or is the product of a leak. The public financing and antitrust aspects seem plausible. Maybe teams readily make the offers and dealpoints available for public consumption because they keep fans invested in their leagues all year round. Contract details have become as important as other stats like ERA and QB ratings.

NASCAR teams never reveal the salaries of their drivers. There are estimates done by Forbes, but nothing official.

As a fan I pay their salary. I should know the pay so I can BOO the guys who suck.

They’ll suck just as much for $5m a year as for $50m.

Likely for the reasons cited above. There is no union and all the the teams are independent contractors. There are no franchises in NASCAR (though they come damn close).

Not all NHL teams revealed salaries in the past but when the salary cap was put in place in 2005 they were all required to reveal salaries.

They don’t.

First of all, they don’t reveal any details of the contracts. The public info is typically just the length and amount of the contract.

Second, the salary data is released by the players’ unions, not the teams. It’s not unusual for salaries to be disclosed in the aggregate as part of a collective bargaining agreement, and to understand why it’s done in pro sports requires an understanding a history of labor negotiations. But in a nutshell, when it comes to negotiating contracts, baseball players learned that they had more leverage by knowing what others earn.

It’s part of the entertainment. Fans want to judge if it’s justified that player A makes x Dollars p.a. while player B only makes y Dollars p. a.

Hell, give me just 1m a year and I’ll suck even more!

The NFL is tax-exempt, but the teams are not. And even so, the league has fought to avoid the reporting requirements.

Pro teams guard their financial info like nuclear secrets.

One research into HR issues once came up with the discovery that generally, it’s personal drive rather than cash that is the best motivator. The cynical response is “Money is not a great motivator, but it’s certainly a good way to keep score.”

I suspect that is part of it - the way a team or the players tell you “A is a better player than B” is based on their scorecard; if they are both QB’s or receivers, it’s easy to compare stats but ultimately, the score is - how many Benjamins?

The driver toward MLB disclosure of salary information was when MLB and the players union agreed to salary arbitration in 1973. For salary arbitration to work, every player, every player’s agent, every owner, every owner’s representative, and every arbitrator must have accurate and dependable information on what every other player is earning.

I suppose theoretically every one of these thousands of people could have been put under an NDA, but in an industry in the public eye you can readily imagine that that would not work.

See Ball Four (Jim Bouton, 1970) for humorous descriptions of salary negotiation before arbitration and disclosure, in the 1960’s. Owners would advise (in an avuncular way, of course) Player A to sign for X because Player B had signed (privately) for Y, and some players were gullible enough to believe it.

When Jaromir Jagr [ahem] played for the Washington Capitals I was really entertained to learn his bi-weekly paycheck was $900,000.

One of the ESPN NASCAR writers in a chat about a month ago said what several others have mentioned. Believe it or not, the NFL is a non profit organization so salary information has to be made available. NASCAR is not, the teams and drivers are “Independent contractors” so they can keep their salary quiet. Attempts to unionize the drivers in the Teamsters union failed in the 1960s when Big Bill France threw out several drivers trying to do so and got a court to agree with him (he let them back in when they promised not to mess with an union nonsense again).
Anyways as Dale Earnhardt once remarked, his salary wasn’t that important…what was important was all the money he made on souvenir sales

Non profit organizations do not have to make salary information of all employees public.

I can’t imagine every player would be considered a “key employee” although I’m sure they all think they are.

Again, the league itself is a 501c non-profit but the 32 teams are not. The league has 400 employees.
Here’s a recent NY Times article on the scope of what they’re required to disclose.

Key employees for the purpose of IRS filings means officers of the company and anyone making over $150,000. The NFL reports one person: the Commissioner.