The Average Salaries in Professional Sports


The United States has five major professional leagues: the National Hockey League, National Football League, Major League Soccer, National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball. Each professional sport has a minimum salary a team can pay a player. Due to the huge difference between the minimum and maximum salaries, average salaries often skew upwards.

National Hockey League

  • In the 2007-2008 season, the National Hockey League had an average salary of $1,906,793. During the 2004-2005 season, the NHL had a lockout where the players did not play. After the lockout, the average salary decreased by $400,000.

Major League Baseball

  • Major League Baseball's average salary per player in the 2010 season was $3,297,828. These numbers only encompass players on the major league roster, but all the teams in Major League Baseball also have an extensive minor league system, which would drastically reduce the average salary.

National Football League

  • In the 2009 National Football League season, the average player salary was $1.1 million. This number is severely skewed as there are several players on a team making a salary of around $7 million to $8 million, while a larger number make toward the league minimum. The league minimum for rookies in 2009 was $193,000.

Major League Soccer

  • As of the 2008 season, Major League Soccer's average salary was $117,299. The median salary however in Major League Soccer was $55,000. In 2008, the highest salary was $5.5 million for David Beckham, and the second highest salary went to Cuauhtemoc Blanco at $2,492,316.

National Basketball League

  • The National Basketball League allows teams to sign one player at the league's average salary to exceed the league's salary cap. This is known as the mid-level exception. In 2008-2009, the NBA's mid-level exception, or average salary, was $5.59 million. This average salary is the highest of all the sports.

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