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Why don’t Chess players earn as much as professional league athletes do?

Why don’t Chess players earn as much as professional league athletes do?

Jun 8, 2014, 10:18 AM 2

It’s not big news that professional chess players don’t earn high salaries like professional athletes do. According to simplyhired.com the average professional chess player salary is $34,000 as of Jun 7, 2014. Of course, this statistic only describes the average professional chess player and cannot account for the savvy businessman nor the earnings of the top echelon players like Carlsen or Anand. The earning of a professional chess player is similar to a park ranger at $31,000 and staff assistant at $41,000. Now, contrast that to earnings of an NBA player whose average salary is approximately $3.5M and the median salary is $1.5M. Another somber fact is that the lowest earning player of the top 100 WSOP players, Jeff Madsen earned a $2.2M­—very similar to chess’s highest earning player Magnus Carlsen of 2013, $2.2M.


Should players who devote a large portion of their lives to chess earn large money like professional athletes do with their respective sports? Perfecting a practice and maintaining a large income flow needs dedication, time and usually almost everything a player has to offer. Chess professionals already allocate time willingly to excel their discipline, so why shouldn’t they earn what other professional league athletes are earning? There certainly is an audience for it as the 2013 FIDE matches have shown.


2013 Fide match between Anand and Carlsen . Most watched chess game in history.

With the announcement of the upcoming largest chess open in history, Millionaire Chess, very passionate and anonymous critics, mostly on the web, have gathered and voiced their opinions on high stakes chess. In fact, the total number of comments directly associated with the MC open would place it as one of the highest commented topics of Chess.com alone. As always, there are two sides to this and the majority is not so easily defined. Concerning high stakes chess, one of the major concerns is that bringing big money into chess would spoil the integrity of the noble sport. Others think that it would bring more competition, value and excitement into the sport without worrying or assuming that it would tarnish chess.


What are your thoughts on high stakes chess? What direction would you like to see it take?

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