Forbes just released their list of the top ten highest paid athletes for 2010. I’ve used this as the basis of a lesson plan in the past and found it to be one that students are pretty interested in. The lesson plan is pretty simple: I start with some pre-discussion questions (asking students to guess the nationalities and the people on the list) then have them look at the list, and follow it up with some more discussion questions.
One way to extend it would be to include some reading, either the Forbes article or this article from Yahoo. I like the language of the Yahoo one better, but both bring up interesting points that could be linked to other global issues: Why are their so few women on the list? Why is Tiger still at the top, despite his supposed loss of sponsors and poor play? And what is behind the NFL lockout? (possibly leading to a discussion of unions). Another good extension activity is comparing these salaries with the average salaries in other fields and talking about why we seem to value athletes so highly when compared to professions like nurses or teachers.