I think most people already agree that higher level athletes end up playing pro team sports rather then getting their brains banged in for pennies in MMA etc however the reason isn’t necessary just the money for the actual athletes, rather IMO it takes a lot of more of an effort to build up a fan base for an individual over a fan base for a city based team. The average NFL player plays professional for 3.3 years, this is when a young man is in his absolute athletic prime. It is because a team can afford to switch the player up often as the fans aren’t as attached to the squad as they are for the team that in some cases has been around for generations. MMA is an individual sport that takes a while to build up awareness and a fan base for an individual athlete, the sponsorship opportunities are low in comparison to other individual sports like golf, F1, etc. The result is MMA having athletes who are fighting way past their physical prime, and athletes who stay relevant despite having many losses simply because they have a fan base. team sports such as football have players who are competing in their prime for an average of 3.3 years after graduation and as a result they have the absolute best athletes completing at their physical prime resulting in the highest level competition. This is not an A level Athlete argument rather it is stating that the level of competition is a direct result of marketing, outside of MMA there are almost no sports where a losing bad performing athlete can have a decade long career.