Sports careers are often the dream, with many kids and adults aspiring to a professional athlete career.
While professional athletes’ physical demands are intense, rewards are high, with the average pay for players in many fields.
But the question arises, what sport makes the most money?
It depends upon the physiological and psychological aspects of the wannabe player.
To clear further confusion and to help you decide on your dream game, here are the top 10 highest-paid sports in the world in 2023:
- Average tennis player salary: US$38,800 for male players and US$40,180 for female players
The possibility of tennis players becoming a professional is like an enormous gamble.
And the probability of stable tennis earnings is little to none, let alone enormous wealth. This level of uncertainty also applies to professional tennis players.
Like other sports athletes, the small likelihood of a large payout is attractive for new tennis players.
Highly qualified players, both women and men, can earn significant prize money. While the players that rank between 200 and 2,000 make almost nothing.
The winners take home approximately 18 percent of the total prize money from the 128 players who qualify for the four Grand Slam tournaments.
Those who perform only get 0.3 percent in the first round. Not including the sponsorships and approvals received over the top placings.
In 2023, 1814 players were qualified as tennis professionals, and nearly half of these athletes will never earn a dime.
The other end of the spectrum is a combination of competitive awards, appearance fees, and sponsorship deals.
It includes big sports brands like Nike, top-ranked players like Roger Federer, and Rafael Nadal, and the Williams sisters earning millions.
According to Forbes’ recently updated rankings, Roger Federer is seventh among the world’s top-paid athletes for 2020-21.
The Swiss star is the only tennis player on the top ten list with revenue of around $90 million in sponsorship and prize money.
Federer’s image as the world’s wealthiest athlete remains impeccable.
Federer received $100 million per year in income from appearances fees and endorsement deals.
9. Combat sport
Combat sports are some of the most exciting sports to watch, with athletes showcasing their skill and grit in the ring. But how much do they earn?
Here’s what you need to know about the earnings of athletes in combat sports.
Unlike athletes in other sports who receive a regular salary, boxers earn a purse for every fight.
The boxer’s manager negotiates the purse before the fight, and the amount can vary from several hundred dollars to millions of dollars, depending on the boxer’s popularity and the importance of the fight.
Some of the highest-earning boxers are those who take part in popular TV and title fights.
In 2015, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao each earned approximately $100 million from pay-per-view for their fight.
The rise of MMA in recent years has led to an increase in the sport’s popularity and a surge in earnings for its top stars.
Conor McGregor is the highest-paid athlete in 2021-22, having earned $22 million from fights alone and $158 million from off-the-field activities, for $180 million.
Despite the increasing popularity of MMA, a significant salary gap still exists between the highest and lowest-paid athletes in companies like the UFC.
In 2018, 33% of UFC fighters earned six-figure salaries, while 37% earned less than the average U.S. household income of $45,000 per year.
That being said, MMA continues to grow in popularity, and the figures for athlete earnings are increasing. It’s no wonder why it’s one of the most paid sports in the world.
Wrestling is also a combat sport, and athletes in this sport earn a regular salary.
The average wrestler on the WWE main roster earns $500,000 annually, while the top performers can earn seven figures. However, determining an individual wrestler’s pay is challenging.
In conclusion, combat sports athletes can earn a significant amount of money, but the amount can vary depending on various factors, such as popularity, the importance of the fight, and company policies.
Regardless of earnings, the hard work and dedication that these athletes put into their craft deserve respect and admiration.
Best golf players like Arnold Palmer, Sam Snead, and Jack Nicklaus solidified their legacy in the sport’s history.
These billionaire athletes earned millions from Golf and have the highest net worth.
Not just that, this sport that pays the most is a favorite pastime among most millionaires and billionaires.
According to Forbes, one of the world’s leading golf players and the most successful athlete of all time, Tiger Woods still holds a record for achieving 11 times first place on the Forbes list of Richest Players.
In 2002, he first ranked at the top with net revenue of $ 69 million.
7. Auto racing
Racing events like the Formula 1 Grand Prix or NASCAR have earned a reputation for being one of the highest-paying sports in the world.
High-income prizes and many reputable supercar brands compensate for the involvement of life-threatening risks.
F1 legend Michael Schumacher was ranked as the highest-paid sportsperson in 1999, with $49 million in total revenue.
In local or regional tournaments, club professionals can earn money.
But they earn most of their income from regular paychecks, often with lesson fees and professional income supplemented.
PGA top-level pros made a median of $68,600, ranging from $40,000 to $140 000, according to a 2010 American compensation survey by the PGA.
High-speed and cross-country motorcycle racing has become a major sports industry with more than a dozen pro-circuit races worldwide.
Global motorcycle brands compete with their fastest bikes in the premier class of motorcycle road racing events like MotoGP and Superbike World Championship.
Talking about MotoGP, the only Asian rider, Takaaki Nakagami, is at the bottom of the league.
Nakagami signed a contract with LCR Honda Castrol in 2018 with a reported revenue of an estimated € 250,000 (RM1,21 million roughly).
It’s the same figure for another rookie, Xavier Simeon, who signed the equipment for Reale Avintia Racing.
With an annual figure of $2 million (about RM7.8 million), Andrea Iannone of Suzuki ECSTAR earned a position in the top ten.
LCR Honda Castrol’s Cal Crutchlow comfortably earns $2.5 million (RM9.75 million) for driving his Honda RC213V as quickly as he can.
6. Ice hockey
Ice hockey Players need to maintain high levels of conditioning in games that are sometimes physically demanding and even combative.
Over recent years, off-season athletes’ requirements have increased to a strict 82-game schedule and several playoff rounds.
In useful exercises, the skill of skating, handling, and shooting is perfected.
Based on the relatively small size of 23 players on the roster and a 50-50 split between owners and players.
The average earnings of players in different NHL teams range from 1.54 million to 3.54 million.
For one of the over 150 minor league teams, most pro-hockey players within the United States and Canada play.
Depending on the League Minor level, the amount is accounted for $40,000 to $90,000 per year.
This highest-paying professional sport relatively pays higher compared to field hockey.
5. American football
NFL players are engaged in one of the most physically challenging sports, in which athletes collide at high speed.
Football strategy, in terms of its complexity, surpasses any other sport.
To prepare for an unlimited number of potential situations, players need to study and master extensive playbooks.
Cases are common, and players take considerable time to repair physical therapy damage and other treatment settings.
To reduce injuries, considering recent attention on traumatic brain damage and during practice sessions, the NFL has established limitations on player contact.
The average career in the NFL is the shortest among all popular sports in America, about 3.5 years.
Though it is America’s favorite sport, NFL players are paid well below their level compared to other major sports.
The average salaries ranged from 2.07 million to 2.99 million for NFL players on different teams in 2017-18.
Only the top competitors, like Matt Ryan, earn the most and not just salary, but they have the biggest contract in sports.
Football lineups have 53 players (for backups) that are much considerably larger than other sports, so they should divide the wages of each team member between them.
Team owners do not guarantee NFL contracts beyond the current season so that teams can cut low-ability players without compensation.
Players will usually receive non-refundable guaranteed signing bonuses.
Colleges act as the minor football league, so most paid employment is in the NFL.
- Average UEFA player salary: ~$6 million-$8 million
- EPL salaries average: $3.2 million
- La Liga salaries average: $1.6 million
When you consider professionally qualified footballers, you’re always attracted to the elite players at the very top.
The richest sport in the world, with its talented players, intensifies the World Cups and the Champions Leagues.
Most followed players like Lionel Messi, David Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Neymar earn the highest pay and get a large share of the money from endorsements.
A large majority of professional players earn only a fraction of what those stars carry home in just one week.
The top football players’ salaries depend upon many factors, like the league they play, the tax system where they belong, and how well they (or their managers) negotiate a deal.
Add additional factors, such as performance criteria related to a clean sheet and goal-scoring bonuses, promotional clauses, and photography rights to measure the actual earnings of players.
Other than in the United States, professional soccer players can make millions of dollars a year. However, most won’t do so much.
Some national league bodies, like the MLS, set wage regulations that determine how many clubs can pay players. There are no such limits in other countries.
Football earnings are usually not based only on salaries but also include bonuses, patrons, rights, backing, and, sometimes, a cut of club profits.
- Average MLB salary: $3.4 million- $4.36 million
Successful MLB players implement rigorous off-season training sessions to enhance strength and flexibility.
The MLB season includes 162 games and several rounds of playoffs to cope with a demanding schedule for players.
Many experts think hitting a baseball is one of the most challenging tasks in sports, which requires the batting skills of players to continue to keep their edge.
The average annual salary for MLB players in 2018 was 4.52 million.
Supported by a powerful union, they guarantee the safety of contracts and a generous pension program to players making baseball one of the top-paid sports in America.
Most professional baseball players play for one of the over 240 minor league teams in the United States.
They receive much smaller pay and benefits, ranging from $1,000 to $3,000 a month, but certainly to make in the big league team.
The top 100 players drawn from school or college receive $500,000 to $2 million in bonuses.
In 2017, the world’s most valuable cricket captain almost made 20 times more than the rest of the players.
International cricketers earn about $1 million from playing international matches for their national teams.
We used the above figures on international cricket and do not consider T20 world cup player earnings, other domestic leagues, or endorsement deals.
Speaking about professional sports leagues, the biggest among them, The Indian Premier League (IPL), has shocked cricket professionals with its rich owners and global appeal.
It has attracted topmost players from five continents with average paychecks of up to $111,000 per three hours.
This is a tremendous amount of money for a sport that traditionally includes domestic league games in the international version.
Although cricket is among the world’s most popular sports, no domestic league was operated as a business before the IPL was launched in 2008.
But with, the IPL teams were paid up to $1.55 million for only one season of five weeks, compared to $500,000 and $1 million for national teams.
We could conclude that cricket is the extremely loved, highest-paying sport in commonwealth countries.
Basketball is one of the most lucrative sports in the world, with basketball players earning enormous salaries and countless sponsorship opportunities.
In 2018-19, the average salary for a basketball player was $7,422,823, making it the world’s highest-paid sport.
This is not just limited to the NBA; other basketball associations such as FIBA, CBA, ABL, Asia League, and more offer high-paying opportunities for players.
With fewer NBA teams than baseball and football, franchisors are able to dedicate more resources to recruiting and signing top talent.
Players in basketball typically sign guaranteed contracts, which means they receive compensation even if they become injured or are cut off by a team.
According to Forbes magazine, basketball players like LeBron James have earned over twice their pay in their first 16 years.
For example, LeBron James is the highest-paid player in the NBA for the sixth consecutive year, earning a whopping $92 million in salary and endorsements.
Nike, one of his biggest endorsers, even named their new research lab in Beaverton, Oregon, after him.
Kevin Durant, another top player, currently has a ten-year, $275 million deal with Nike, but has only earned $75 million in on-court revenue over the past year.
Other basketball legends like the late Kobe Bryant endorsed brands such as Adidas, Nike, and Nintendo, while Michael Jordan’s sponsors are too numerous to mention.
It’s not just NBA players who earn high salaries, however.
The world’s leading basketball players in Spain, Greece, Italy, China, and Argentina also earn salaries of over 1 million dollars.
Basketball truly is a global sport with global earning potential for top athletes.