Being named the highest-paid athlete has immense aspirational value for the youth but aspiration must not become a distraction.

Forbes has named global soccer star Lionel Messi as the world’s highest-paid athlete for the first time. Messi, with $127 million in total earnings between June 2018 and June 2019, is the eighth athlete and only the second soccer player to take the top slot, after rival Cristiano Ronaldo, who took the second spot. Messi dethroned American boxer Floyd Mayweather, who topped last year with $285 million. Messi earned $92 million in salary and $35 million in endorsements. The cut-off to land a place in "The World’s Highest-Paid Athletes" list was $25 million this year. According to Forbes, the salaries of the athletes are being “driven by ever-richer TV contracts". To give some context to these numbers, consider the television broadcast rights revenue for Fifa. It was $3 billion for the 2015-2018 cycle, and marketing rights revenue for the same cycle were $1.65 billion. With billions of viewers watching such events (yes, you read that right), understanding the economics behind such earnings is not so difficult and puts things in perspective.

However, what does it mean to be on this list? It is hard to believe that sportspersons or actors or businessmen consciously work towards finding a place in such rankings. Sometimes they follow their passion, and maybe sometimes fame; but hardly are they lured by the prospect of being called the “richest" or “the highest-paid". Making into such lists is just incidental. And this is precisely the takeaway for the young here. Fame and fortune have immense aspirational value and if one is not careful, the aspiration itself can be a distraction from one’s discipline. It’s better to look for traits that can fuel one’s journey. Better to seek what the greats have sought.

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