This story appears in the May 2, 2011, issue of ESPN The Magazine.
To find out which athletic organizations shell out the most dough, we surveyed 272 teams in 14 major pro leagues, covering seven sports, spanning 10 countries, comprising 7,802 athletes making a combined $15.2 billion in salary. Our final numbers, below, were compiled by Nick Harris, editor of sportingintelligence.com. "Average Annual Salary" represents base player salaries from current or most recently completed seasons from each sport, and excludes endorsements, bonuses, appearance fees and any other source of extra compensation. All figures converted to U.S. dollars. All IPL annual figures pro rata from weekly pay.
The sports and leagues: Aussie rules football (AFL), baseball (MLB, NPB), basketball (NBA), cricket (IPL), football (CFL, NFL), soccer (Bundesliga, EPL, La Liga, MLS, Serie A, SPL).
The countries: Australia, Canada, England, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Scotland, Spain, USA.
For the complete list, go to sportingintelligence.com.