A reader writes:
“America believes in education: the average professor earns more money in a year than a professional athlete earns in a whole week.”
– Evan Esar (1899 – 1995)
But we do tend to have longer careers.
Anyway, it depends on the sport. And whether by “average” person you mean the median person, or if you really want to average the salaries.
And for the ones with bigger teams, do you look just at the stars, or the median player? After all the average (not median) baseball player ‘only’ made $2,476,589 in 2005, and I bet the median player made less than that. That’s under $47,626 per week on a 52-week basis. There definitely are professors in the humanities who make more than that, and the professional schools are loaded with them. (The 52-week comparison isn’t as unfair as it seems since many professors have 9-month contracts, which is only a little longer than the baseball season, if you count spring training.)
Update: I think as regards baseball at least, this isn’t quite accurate, although it’s close: Median baseball salaries on a team range from $ 322,500 on the Colorado Rockies to $ 5,833,334 on the NY Yankees. The median salary on the median team is either the Seattle Mariners’ $ 800,000 or the Minnesota Twins’ $ 750,000 depending if you round down or up. Which puts it just under 12 times the average professor’s salary!
Of course, if you throw in other professional sports, who knows, it might be true…