Professional Sports: Rising Salaries Matched By Rising Per Diems

Over the past few decades, the average salaries for professional athletes have continued to rise.  When you add the endorsements many of the top athletes receive, their yearly earnings are much higher than those of the highest paid CEO's of Fortune 500 companies.  Per diem amounts typically increase by approximately 10 percent annually, unlike in other professions.  Regardless of their escalating salaries, these professional athletes continue to receive per diem payments while on the road.  These payments are mandatory in accordance with the collective bargaining agreements between the players' unions and franchises.  

According to NBC Sports, MLB players will receive a $100.50 per diem on road days (during regular & postseason) this year. That's up from $99 last year.  That amount of money alone could provide 3 meals per day for 12 people who cannot afford food for their families.  According to an Associated Press study, the average MLB salary will break the $4 million mark for the first time in 2015.  And, that's only the average!  Those same professional baseball players will all receive per diems that could help feed the 49 million Americans suffering from food insecurity.  

As part of the NBA's collective bargaining agreement, each NBA player receives $106 for every day they are on the road. This serves as their meal money  (roughly $19 for breakfast, $30 for lunch and $57 for dinner); however, many players use this extra cash for other expenditures and treat it as a tax free bonus. Although we support their rights to meal reimbursement while on the road, that’s a really good deal, considering $106 could feed a family for a week!

Per diem is a regular piece of collective bargaining agreements for the National Hockey League as well.  The NHL per diem was $101 in 2013 but was increased to $103 for 2014-15.  If saved over a 10-year NHL career, per diem payments for one player could equal well over 125,000.  Through our partnership with Feeding America ($1=10 meals), that money could feed 1,250,000 Americans.

In the National Football League, per diems come from the players' share of league-wide revenue and is allocated from the first day of preseason training camp.  Players are reimbursed for meals not provided by the team — $22 for breakfast, $32 for lunch and $50 for dinner.  In 2013-14, rookies received $925 per week and veterans accrued $1,700 per week while at training camp. Those preseason per diems alone could make a difference in the lives of thousands of Americans suffering from food insecurity.  

We are not of the opinion that professional athletes do not deserve to meal subsidies; however, there are over 49 million Americans wondering where their next meal will come from.  Just imagine the number of families who could benefit from these funds that many players consider a little extra cash.