Sports Illustrated's list of the top 50 highest paid athletes in the United States is full of names that will surprise and or shock you

The immortal Carl Crawford

Sports Illustrated's recently released lists of the top paid athletes in sports is well worth a look.

Fascinatingly SI have separated their lists into two, a United States list, and an international list. This separation perhaps unexpectedly provides a look into the soul of American sports. Much as we all love it, it's not always pretty.

I would argue the top eight athletes in the list are acceptable, from the point of view of value for salary. Every athlete in the top eight belongs in this list, it is hard to argue the impact and value of LeBron, Drew Brees, Kobe, Peyton Manning and so on.

From the 9 spot in the order we see problems start to arise. Alex Rodriguez is the 9th highest paid athlete in sports in the United States. That's right, A-Rod. Right after the man most to blame for the horrific logjam on the New York Yankees payroll comes perhaps the most overpaid individual on the list. Zach Greinke is good, sure, but unless you were his Dad, can you look me in the eye and say he should be the 10th highest athlete in sports in the USA? Forget athletes from other sports, there are literally dozens of MLB pitchers who should be ahead of Greinke in terms of annual earnings.

The rest of the list is a scrap heap of carnage. Take a deep breath, and, know that Alfonso Soriano, Barry Zito, Carl Crawford, Vernon Wells, Carl Nicks, Mario Williams, Johan Santana and A-Rod are all part of the top 50 highest earning athletes in the United States this year.

Soriano, Crawford and Wells (Vernon Wells, seriously!) are all laughable or chilling entries in the list, depending if you find the fact that people are paying them hundreds of millions of dollars to play sports funny or scary.

Whatever about those, Joe Johnson, Dwight Howard, Matt Schuab, Vincent Jackson and Zach Greinke might be decent athletes, but come on, seriously, top 50 paid athletes in the entire United States?

Those are just the most egregious names on the list. You could probably argue half a dozen more or so.

Compare that with the international list.

I'll give you David Beckham, he's questionable at best, and right at the top of the list. You could argue he is currently on the books of a hot French side (PSG) and is still very much 'significant' in the world of soccer, but he really doesn't represent value as the highest paid athlete in international sports.

After that though the list is pretty tight. Most, if not all of the rest of the athletes on the international list are worthy of their spot, and most if not all are at least close to the top of their respective games.

Put it this way, there is nobody like Carl Crawford stinking up the International list.

What does this all tell us?

In short, it suggests strongly that the system is, if not broken, seriously damaged in the United States. The best athletes are not the highest paid athletes. The highest paid athletes list in the USA is infected with a large percentage of players who are are broken, cheating, underachieving losers, clogging up the list with dead dollars.

Dead, wasted dollars.

I am sorry if it offends him or his 7 remaining fans, but in no universe is it logical to have Vernon Wells as one of the top 50 highest paid athletes.

Perhaps most worryingly of all, it does not appear that anyone gives a damn.

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