Professional Sports: For Love or Money?

Professional Sports: For Love or Money?
Barbara Bush: Sports and Popular Culture

Skill: Middle School
Time Required: One to two class periods


Since the 1970s, television contracts have infused American professional sports with large amounts of money.  That trend continues today.  Barbara and George Bush enjoy watching professional sports (their son, George W., once owned the Texas Rangers baseball team) and were certainly aware of this issue.


The purpose of this lesson is for students to become aware of the skyrocketing salaries of professional players in 4 sport venues.   

Materials Required:

Access to the Internet. Access to print reference materials.


Ask students if they know how much the President of the United States makes each year as salary ($200,000).
Divide students into 6 groups and assign one of the following topics to each group.  They are to research and report back for class discussion on the following pieces of information:
  1. Salaries or event purses (tennis, golf, bowling) before 1970 and today;
  2. Salaries of NBA players before 1970 and today
  3. Answer the question:  what impact have these increases had on the sport itself?
    • National Basketball Association
    • Bowling
    • Women’s Golf
    • Men’s Golf
    • Women’s Tennis
    • Men’s Tennis

Extending the Lesson:

The teacher may ask students to create graphs to illustrate the changing salaries/purses.

Sources & Resources:


National Basketball Association 

Basketball Salaries


Women's Golf

Men's Golf

Women's Tennis

Men's Tennis



This lesson was developed by Bette Brooks, Kent State University.