Should the MLS Increase the Minimum Wage

Featured / Recent News / Soccer Analytics / USA / June 28, 2016

No. The minimum wage should not be increased. That’s the short answer, to be frank.

$51,500 is fair. The livable wage in Los Angeles is $12.42 per hour, which comes out to $24,840 full time. L.A. is the second most expensive city in the U.S., eight most in the world, according to Business Insider. The minimum wage in the MLS is double of what is considered normal living conditions in a very expensive area. Clearly, it’s not too shabby.

Plus, it’s what the market currently demands. If the labor of these players was worth more than $51,500, the invisible hand of the economy would compensate.

So, with our answer already acquired, let’s look at some counterarguments. For shits and giggles.

Here are three different takes on why the MLS should raise its minimum wage.

1) The Players Are Worth More (At Least They Think So)

In a recent poll taken by ESPN in June of 2015, 25% percent of MLS players answered ‘Salaries’ to the question, “What is the MLS’s biggest problem,” while another 20% spoke out against other issues with the Collective Bargaining Agreement. (Interestingly, 20% said travel which inspired this article.


The MLS’s biggest problems, according to the players.

46% of MLS players said that they could make more money outside of the league. Those are huge numbers. Somewhat astounding.

Almost half of the league has a beef with the money. Almost half could doing something else for more money.

Still, if I put myself in their shoes, I probably would have gunned for a bigger paycheck by checking yes.

Let’s move on. To some more data.

2) Players Could Make More Money (The Players Are Totally Right)

The average salary of the U.S. bachelor Class of 2014 was $48,127. Assuming an average increase of 5% per year, the average this year would be $53,060.

Consider two things.

One, there is more room to grow. More promotions and opportunities to be had in the world outside of soccer. Second, when they take into account work ethic, teamwork, and tactical intelligence developed through years of training, the accomplished athlete could probably make even more.

True, these numbers are similar. Only a $1500 difference. Yet when we consider the sacrifice of playing in the MLS towards both the future and the present, towards careers and a life free of strenuous travel, the difference is less than negligible, the numbers are nowhere near similar.

3) Anecdotal Evidence

A personal narrative can sometimes be the most powerful and persuasive form of argument. Throw in a heap of authority, and true convincing occurs. Thus, I give you Luis Soffner, former goalkeeper for the New England Revs.

The salary guys are some of the hardest workers on the team because they want to prove themselves and earn more they work the hardest. But then again…, if they had the chance to double their salary, they might work even harder, which might push the players who are making well into 6 figures to work even harder.

Luis Soffner.

Luis Soffner.

At this point, I think we’re on the verge of becoming a big league. Where it’s the Top 5 leagues in the US. I think compensation should become a factor. Also, increase competition too, make the players all the better to earn their spot, and then, in turn, make the league a better league, not only here but across the world.”

That sums it up for me. Of course, the boss will try to pay workers less, and the grunts feel like they deserve more. As a grunt myself, I can empathize. But, as Luis puts it, increasing wages may improve the league. Make it an entity to be envied across the world.

Players, owners, fans. Isn’t that what we all want?

Connor Drake
Playing since I was little, now watching, coaching, and writing soccer, I have had an unceasing love affair with the game. Cleveland is my home.

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June 28, 2016