Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Comparing Lockouts - a Sports Post

Like most sports fans, I am somewhat saddened by the NFL and NBA lockouts - how can there be fall without FootBALL!!! Although the NBA is slightly less important, I still am a fan.  With that said, the end result of these lockouts could be both interesting and depressing. 

First, let's go into some background.  Both the NFL and the NBA have similar structures made up of owners, who own the team, and players who actually play the game.  NFL teams employ dozens of players, coaches, medical staff, and other hangers on.  The cost is tremendous, and so are the rewards - the NFL nets billions of dollars every year.  In the meantime, NFL players play, on average, 3-4 years, are paid well, but not great, and suffer shortened lifespans as a result of their NFL careers.  NFL Players are represented (sort of, but its complicated right now) by the NFL Players Association, and the NFL owners have their own group.  The NFL owners, wanting more money from the players, have locked out the players, so they can't go to work.

The NBA has a similar structure, but is completely different.  While some teams in the NBA are turning a profit, many NBA teams are not.  In fact, the NBA owners did the rare thing and opened their books to the players.  Additionally, the lifestyle of NBA players IS different.  The average NBA player plays for several years, makes a lot of money, and doesn't suffer the kind of long-term health effects that NFL players do.

Now if the justice were to prevail, the NFL owners, who are locking out their players to be greedy, would lose terribly, and the NBA owners, who have a legitimate gripe against the players, would win.  But I don't think so.  NFL players have deep support from the fans, but ultimately, that won't help them.  Not only will the fans miss football, but the players will miss their paychecks, and have to give in.  The owners, meanwhile, have built up a warchest.

NBA owners, on the other hand, have a real problem on their hands - let's say that the lockout is bad and bitter, what's to stop NBA players from forming their own league?  Players like Lebron James and Dwyane Wade are already savvy businessmen, and have brilliant marketeers around them.  Unlike in football, basketball injuries tend not to be severe, and a team really needs 8-10 players.  In other words, the entrance costs for an NBA competitor would be significantly lower than that of a football team. Moreover, in the last 13 years since the last lockout, the methods of marketing have gone viral, and the overall cost has dropped.  Players are used to marketing themselves.  As a result, and with that potential handgrenade hanging over their heads, I think the NBA ends its lockout sooner than later.

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