NBA Lockout or Cop-out?

Who is the good guy and who is the bad guy? The NBA lockout is in effect, and the finger pointing has started. The NBA Team owners locked the players out of the facilities to stress how serious they are about the new collective bargaining agreement and its processes this summer. Could the lockout cut games from the season, or worse, will we miss an entire NBA season due to negotiations?

If you wanted to simplify this lockout, the two main issues are; the owners wanting a stricter cap in place, perhaps even a hard cap. The players want better structuring of salaries and more of the share. Of course, the players don’t want a hard cap and the owners don’t want to pay the players more.

Now we are at the long stalemate of an NBA lockout. But here is this writers issue, fans are quick to take sides with the opposition, and they are stubbornly doing so. We need to realize there is a third side, and a fourth side to this. The fans side and the cities side that each team represents in their name.

We do have to work with the data that is given to us. Much of this data has to be questioned, because every side of the negotiation is reporting very biased stats. Well guess what, that is how negotiations work. Thankfully there are some out there that are tracking expenditures and revenues like the eagle-scouts they are.

First, are players making their fair share? The average salary of the players is slightly under what they made 10 years ago. Adjusted for inflation by using the more accurate CPI-M data, and not the limited(therefore heavily flawed) CPI-U adjustment, we can see the top 10% of players are seeing an increase in earnings of $2.1m a year, and the lower 10% are also seeing an increase of $240k a year. But the middle has seen a decrease of $1.684m per season. All in all, nobody is really going poor here, but the players do have a case that the middle earners are getting unfairly squeezed.Although  any economics guru will also tell you that inflation is an absolutely terrible way to sort out the value of earners within the top 4% of the world’s economy. There is no sense in it, and here it does not apply. The size of the market itself adjusts the value of players, their true market value becomes an exception of its own. That exception carries a whole new set of rules.

Next, are the owners losing money? On average the owners stay even with their values. Muck-ruck all you want with reported sites on what the owners are earning, but you will see inconsistent data on struggling teams, because those owners all have a different method to filling the stands or building themselves a winner. In such a case, the league is reporting an average of $10 million in losses for each team. Now without trying to confirm a bias of sorts here, the numbers don’t add up. Just like the players needing more money, this is a negotiation tactic to over-report. But is it even possible that teams are losing money by way of the actual NBA CBA? No, all of the losses occurred from overspending. Unless, we factor in non-salary benefits. Just one of many programs, the NBA pension program, which seems to be forgotten about, costs the owners and the league near $10 million a year. So wait, the numbers are getting better, but that doesn’t mean the league and its owners are the most efficient at setting up their business models to maximize revenue, therefore take in a profit and be able to increase salaries. From the inconsistent data, the teams are still claiming an unaccounted for, $280 million in losses.

Some outlets are reporting that the owners have increased spending on other levels. This means that executives are being paid more, more guaranteed money is going to fired coaches, the league is creating more positions and jobs throughout the league. All of this is adding up. Exactly how many new positions have been made? The league is not reporting an exact number, but to justify the spending, they would have to have created approximately 2000 positions throughout the league. That includes the ever growing field of sports medicine, training, marketing, community services, and of course, everyone’s fair share to good old Uncle Sam.

After reading all of these crazy econo-wanabees and paper-pushing mathlazies attempt a few simple spread-sheets to match an idea to their accounting-wizardry, now I can see why everyone is still so confused by the matters at hand.

Where are we left? Are we getting honest answers from the player representatives or the owners? NO, we are not! Neither side thinks their shit stinks, but both sides laid a big, fat, smelly allover the bargaining table.

Now this is where we should have our say. I know, I will sound like a broken record here. but us, as fans of the game, need to take our position. What matters the most to the fans?

The teams must have the ability to sign the players they like, okay, check. A level cap doesn’t change things for anyone so this is a push.

The tickets have to stay affordable. If the owners need to hire more luxuries for the players, or pay the players more, the cost gets thrown to us, the fans. Hate the owners, hate the game of business, that is just how it works.

The broadcast licensing must be affordable for the media bidders, and we want to make sure that games get the widest possible broadcast when possible. I contribute the initial loss in revenue to having an actual lockout, more than the negotiations. So of course, the fans should want the owners to deal sooner than later and get back to basketball.

The arena has to be well maintained, and replaced when needed. Both sides need to take a hit on this. The actual owners of the venue (whether it’s the team owner, the city, owned by an NHL affiliate, or a partnership) should bear the largest burden on venue costs.

Community Programs. Both sides again.

In conclusion here, I think taking sides with the players or the owners is silly. We haven’t gotten down to the real negotiations yet, and of course both will apply every dirty tactic in the book to try and sway the media for or against. I say we keep our foot down, everyone needs to manage themselves better, including the players, and everyone needs to take a hit. The NBA isn’t the only organization hurting in this oddball economy that we are in. The owners or players should not be exempt when we the fans mean more to the game, than the stars that we admire.

Wait until both sides have presented their detailed plans, and the opposition is in, somewhat, consideration. Then maybe taking a side wouldn’t be too obvious to your own personal agenda in political class warfare or union views.



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