How much players get paid for playoff championship runs in every sport, from $438,000 in MLB to $0.00 in college
Athletes in major sports leagues earn varying amounts of extra compensation for postseason games. We can think of playoff games as overtime work for the world’s greatest athletes.
Individual contracts don’t usually sort out how players are compensated for the extra time they put in during their postseasons. research of the major American sports leagues’ CBAs, here are hard figures or estimates for player compensation on teams that win league championships.
Baseball has a players’ pool, the size of which depends on league-wide ticket revenue throughout the postseason. In 2017, the players’ pool was a record $84,500,432, with more than $438,000 going out to the average player on the Houston Astros. Players have some latitude in how they distribute their money by team, and that includes allocating some for staff members and coaches.
The pool is composed of 50 percent of ticket money from the Wild Card games in the American and National Leagues, 60 percent of the first three games of every Divisional Series, 60 percent of the first four games of the League Championship Series, and 60 percent of the first four games of the World Series.
The World Series winner gets 36 percent of that pool and divides it up by shares. The World Series loser gets 24 percent, as do the two LCS losers. The LDS losers get 13 percent, and the Wild Card losers get 3 percent, which was still about $19,000 for one game in 2017.
The Astros had to play 18 games to win the Series, making a full share worth $24,383 per game. You should have your kids play baseball.
NBA: $221,000 (estimated)
The NBA has a $20 million players’ pool for the playoffs. That’s a new amount this season, up from $15 million last year.
The league consults with the players’ union on how that gets divided up, and the NBPA didn’t offer planned allocation totals for this season’s playoffs when I asked.
But we know the winning team in the NBA Finals got about $2.6 million two years ago, when the pool was $15 million.
If the winners’ share grows by 25 percent, in step with the players’ pool’s overall increase, the 2018 NBA champs will get $3,320,527 to divide among themselves. That’s how we get our rough estimate for the average payout to a 15-man roster: $221,268.
This payout would be about $11,000 per game if the champions played 20 postseason games. If you’re the Warriors and win quicker than that, you come out ahead.
NFL: $191,000 (for a division champion that wins it all)
That’s what a player makes if he’s on a team that gets a bye through the Wild Card round of the playoffs, then wins the Super Bowl.
That total’s a schedule of payouts for every playoff round, as laid out in the league’s collective bargaining agreement with players:
The absolute low end for NFL postseason pay is $26,000, for players on a wild card qualifier that goes one-and-done. The high end is $219,000, for players on a No. 3 or No. 4 seed that goes on a four-game run and wins the Super Bowl. Teams would rather not have to play on Wild Card Weekend, but players get an extra game check if they do.
NHL: $163,000 (estimated)
The NHL has a $15 million player compensation pool for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, as laid out in its CBA.
There’s annual flexibility in how teams share their take, and the NHL hasn’t released updated figures on what each team gets. The share for the Cup winner was $3.75 million in 2013.
If the championship team decided to split that among every player on a 23-man roster and nobody else, it’d be $163,043 per player.
That would work out to a little less than $7,000 per game per guy, if a team played four six-game series en route to a Cup win. It usually takes a little longer for a hockey team to get through its conference than, say, an elite basketball team.
The bonus for an MLS team that wins the league’s cup is $275,000, according to the terms of the league’s CBA. The roster size is 30, meaning the MLS champs get an average of $9,166 for each player. One player contract unearthed by Sports Illustrated has the player’s title share at $9,821.
It takes three or four matches to win the title, depending on byes. It’s around $3,000 per game for players on a championship team that began with a bye.
The MLS isn’t analogous to any of the other sports here, because that league doesn’t have a television contract in the same stratosphere of any of the others. Including …
College sports: $0.00
ESPN is paying $7.3 billion over 12 years to broadcast the College Football Playoff. The NCAA’s deal with CBS for March Madness men’s basketball is for a billion dollars a year.
Players can’t be paid under NCAA rules. They get free food, travel, and an education for being scholarship athletes, though they don’t get extra financial compensation for postseason appearances, beyond stuff supervised department store shopping sprees valued at no more than $550 per player.
Coaching contracts almost always have bonuses for Playoff appearances and championships. Clemson coach Dabo Swinney stands to make up to $1 million in performance bonuses if the Tigers repeat as national champions, for example.
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