NBA players have the highest-average salaries but no league spends more than the NFL
Sporting Intelligence has released their annual survey of salaries for athletes in the top leagues around the world.
The study looks at the first-team pay for 333 teams across seven different sports in 17 different leagues around the world. The Cleveland Cavaliers are the new highest-paid sports team in the world, with players making an average of $8.7 million during the 2016-17 season.
Thanks to a salary cap that is skyrocketing due to soaring television revenue, NBA teams shot up the list this year. Of the 25 highest-paid teams in the world, 18 are from the NBA, and overall, the average NBA player makes $6.4 million, tops in the world.
Of course, NBA players have the distinct advantage of playing in a league with just 12 players on each active roster, which means the total amount spent on player salaries, ranks just third in the world.
Meanwhile, NFL players rank just sixth in the world with an average salary of $2.4 million. But with 53-man rosters, NFL teams pay their players a total of $4.1 billion, more than $330 million more than any other sports league.
Interestingly, the top four sports leagues, in terms of total salaries paid to active-roster players, all reside in North America.
Thanks to a salary-cap system, NBA players also come out on top when it comes to median pay.
Of the 360 active-roster players during the 2016-17 season, half will make at least $3.75 million, more than $1.0 ahead of any other sports league.