Mankiw links to a Ken Rogoff piece that asks why people seem to have no problem with star athletes pay versus supposed star-CEOs and private business executives. Mankiw, while not explicitly stating so, appears to agree with Mr. Rogoff.
The argument is nonsensical for a few big reasons. First, it assumes that people don’t think superstar athletes are overpaid. Informal evidence suggests otherwise. Second, athletes are not generally paid millions for leading his or her own team’s failure. Third, athletes, while not always the pinnacle role models we wish them to be, have never contributed to the disintegration of an economy while simultaneously leading the perversion of our democracy -- controlling special interest lobby groups on one hand and begging for government bailouts on the other.
There are differences. Equating 'stars' in the sports industry to the top private sector businesses simply doesn't make sense.