Carded athletes report an average annual income of $29,649 (for 2008). The average personal income for Canadians in 2008 was approximately $38,000, as reported by Statistics Canada. The largest proportion of this income is derived from government assistance; roughly half of athletes’ average income is from either Federal and/or Provincial athlete assistance. Of this government assistance, the majority is from the Federal level ($12,136 annually on average) while Provincial athlete assistance is less prominent ($3,490 annually on average). Smaller proportions of athletes’ incomes are derived from sport-related sources (such as professional salaries, endorsements/ sponsorships or appearance fees/prize money - an average of $6,604), actual employment income ($8,787 annually) or sports awards ($2,164). Only a very small proportion is derived from the National Sport Organization ($843) or other sources ($1,630 annually).
The 2008 annual average personal income for high performance athletes is fairly stable from 2004 when the 2004 findings are adjusted for inflation to 2008 constant dollars. While government athlete assistance has become increasingly prevalent as an income source, employment income has gone down. In 1992 and 1997, the largest proportion of income came from employment rather than government assistance while, in 2004, government assistance was the most prevalent source of an athlete’s income (accounting for roughly a third) and currently it accounts for roughly half an athlete’s income.
The table below indicates that winter sport athletes are commanding considerably higher incomes than summer sport athletes. This is also true of those in individual and targeted sports. In both cases the difference is heavily concentrated in sport-related income. The sport-related income increases by card level. The figure that stands out is that for SR 1 and 2s whose income is more than double that of Ds and C1s, and approximately 50 per cent more than the average of all athletes. Sport-related income is also double for winter sport athletes compared with summer sport athletes, which is also true for individual sport athletes compared to team sport athletes and targeted, compared to non-targeted sport athletes. Paralympians are also making much more income, although this is more in employment income. It is also useful to note that the paralympians are typically much older and more often employed. Income goes up with age and carding level (in most income categories). There is also a gender gap, although not as marked as the card and age gaps and mostly focused in income gap. These same patterns were also noted in 2004.
Table 6.1: Average Personal Income by Athlete Characteristic