The American sports world has been left speechless in the last twenty four hours as reports of a sudden deal between former NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City chiefs has dominated headlines. The star quarterback agreed to a ten year, $450 million dollar extension. (Reports of a twelve year, $477 million dollar deal included the two years remaining on his current deal. Those were, reportedly, left unchanged.) if these reports are true, the 24 year old superstar will be set to make an average of $45 million a year over the ten years of this deal. Much is still to be reported. How much is guaranteed for injury? Are there options or incentives?
Regardless, the number is jaw dropping. These kinds of headlines are the challenge faced by MLR.
For as long as the MLR has existed, rugby fans have wondered how to convert the best American players to the game. Getting the game in front of fans is important. Showing that there is a legitimate chance to play professionally and that fans care is important. Success on the international level doesn’t hurt. All of those things feed into the one word answer.
No MLR player with bring in eight figures in the near future. The very best might bring in five. Growing the game’s financial position is critical to attracting young talent. It goes beyond football. Basketball and baseball stars often pull in eight figure salaries as well. Seven figures is common in both games, as well as hockey. The MLS features minimum salaries at just over $70,000. That’s several times more than the very best of MLR.
The MLR is growing and will continue to do so. The salary cap in 2020 was double what it was back in 2018. But the game won’t be able to compete for the best American athletes until the pay gap starts to close.