Hah. The question was "have you ever wondered who pays the salaries"? Not, "How do the owners get the money to pay their salaries?"
It was a stupid question and deserved a stupid answer.
Note I also said, "What is your actual point or question?"
The OP never answered, but iamwhatiam said:
You think team owners just grow money on trees? Ultimately, ALL of that money comes out of our pockets... viewers and non-viewers alike.
If you don't watch the show, its ratings go down, and the network can't charge as much for advertising, and therefore it pays less to the league or team to carry the events. Also, if you don't watch the channel (ESPN), its overall ratings go down, and cable networks won't pay as much to ESPN for rights to carry their channels, which will cause ESPN to pay less to leagues and teams to carry their events. Finally, if you don't subscribe to "basic cable" at all, that puts an even bigger hurt on everyone.
So you have a choice as to how much you want to spend on your sports entertainment, both in actual money, and in viewing time (which translates to money for the providers).
Therefore, your statement that EVERYONE pays no matter what, is really not true at all. Consumers have choices and exercise those choices all the time. Cable networks come and go all the time because of the choices those viewers make.
The OP's assertion is "the problem is that cable/satellite are funding high sports salaries" has a hidden assumption that sports salaries are higher than they should be. According to whom? No one is holding a gun to your head and saying you have to watch and pay for sports. Players get paid because they make money for the owners! That's all. They're just workers who produce a product.
If there was a demand and money to be made offering sports-free channel lineups, they would already be there.