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The NBA Lockout and Why Nobody Cares

November 3, 2011

The National Basketball Association players are currently under lockout by the owners. Had there been no lockout, the season would have already begun. All games scheduled for the remainder of November have already been cancelled. Should the lockout end today, the first tip-off would not take place until at least December.

But nobody seems to care.

Well, that’s not exactly true. Some people do care.

The die hard basketball fan cares. They want their sport. They want their entertainment.

People whose livelihood depends on the game, they care too. Obviously, their livelihood is at risk. These are the fringe players, the guys at the bottom of the league earning league-minimum contracts. These are the vendors at the arenas, the guys who go up and down the aisles all game long trying to sell you beer or cotton candy. The NBA ensures them forty one days of work. Right now, those are looking like forty one days off.

The owners care. At least to some point. They own the basketball teams. They instituted the lockout.

It is my belief that nobody else in this world cares. Nobody else gives a damn.

The lockout was begun by the owners because they want to change the collective bargaining system so that they can institute some form of cost certainty. Professional sports teams are notorious for finding ways to circumvent the rules of the collective bargaining agreement so they can over-spend on player salaries. By locking the players out, the owners are trying to force the players to sign a new collective bargaining agreement that will further tie the hands of the owners from over-spending on player salaries. The players do not want to sign the new CBA because they enjoy having the owners over-spend for their services.

I’m not going to take sides on this issue as I am one of the many, many, many people who don’t care about the league being shut down. I like the sport. I enjoy going to games and watching my favourite team win. But I don’t care. And here is why me and so many people don’t care about the NBA being locked out.

The debate between the owners and players has become a fight over money between billionaires and millionaires. The money they are fighting over is my money. Both parties have much more than I. They don’t need my money. As long as they are squabbling, they are not getting their hands into my wallet, sifting around for loose pennies.

To own an NBA team today requires a huge pile of moneys. The value of the poor teams is in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The poor teams. These are teams that, when they last played, played in half-empty arenas. These are teams that receive miniscule amounts of revenue from television deals, arena concession deals, sponsorship and partnership contracts.

Players in the league, on average earn several million dollars a year. Most player contracts are guaranteed. An NBA player can serve time in prison and still be paid his contract. One NBA player committed a crime at work, in the team’s locker room. The crime was against his own teammates. He went to prison for the crime. He was still paid his multi-million dollar salary. The average NBA player, today, is not living pay cheque to pay cheque.

Witnessing these two groups debate over money is insulting to me. I have to work very hard for what little I can take home. Then to spend my hard earned money on tickets to see basketball games, to provide these two groups of people with money, makes me feel like I’m doing something wrong. As long as there are no NBA games, I’m not giving either the owners or the players any more money.

The owners are a pretty faceless group. The average person does not know who makes up the thirty ownership groups in the NBA. (Okay, twenty nine if you’d like to get really picky as one NBA team currently exists without ownership and is being managed by the league itself.) Some owners make themselves known while others prefer to hide in the shadows of their luxury box and come out only to raise a trophy, should there be a trophy to be raised. It is difficult to support those who wish not be known, preferring to hide high up in their ivory towers.

The players, however, have been completely different. As the league has grown, the players have become more visible to the public. This visibility has worked against the players in any attempts they may have made to garner public support. Between the 2009-10 and 2010-2011 seasons, two players made their change of teams very public. One player went so far as to have a television special in which he would announce with which team he has chosen to sign. Players making the choice to sign with different teams is not uncommon, it’s standard practice throughout professional sports leagues world wide. However, in recent years, the method of which NBA players have publicly gone about making these moves has left a bad taste in the mouths of the fans.

Neither party in this dispute has endeared themselves to their customers. The National Basketball League faces much competition for customers at a time when consumer spending is low. Arguing over percentage points of billions of dollars during economically unfavourable times has made both sides seem petty and completely oblivious to the concerns of their customers, the fans. Fans are able to take their little disposable income and spend it on competing products likes football, both college and professional, college basketball, hockey, soccer, mixed martial arts, the list goes on. The NBA entered into this lockout with higher than expected television ratings but with incredibly low attendance at the games themselves. Half of the teams in the league have been playing before half-empty arenas every night. This is not a good time for the business of basketball to be getting petty over an extra million dollars here or there.

All of those involved with the NBA, you should be happy with the money you have, you may be the only ones with that money right now.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. November 3, 2011 9:40 am

    I love watching NBA ball. And now that the World Series is finished… I think I am going to start noticing the lack of NBA. Hell, I think I have already noticed, I have found myself checking on the local hockey team more often than usual.

    But at the same time, I decided a long time ago that the season was most likely not going to happen. So I am not surprised whenever more games get cancelled. Also I think it is in my favourite team’s best interests if the season doesn’t happen. They have a lot of young players who can learn a lot overseas and such. Meanwhile some old vets might retire after the year off (e.g. Garnett) which would make it easier for my favourite team to win more games next year.

    Like I said, the die hard fans care, but not the casual fans.

  2. November 3, 2011 9:44 am

    I like your insights. Thanks for speaking up for the common fan in the bleachers, scratching their heads about how this isn’t enough money for either side, and getting pissed ’cause all he wants is a damned game to watch.

    These guys get paid millions of dollars to do something we all did as kids for free. Isn’t that enough reward in itself? (I sort of felt that way about the NFL lockout/CBA deal too.)

    Not like it’ll make any sort of difference what I say.

  3. November 3, 2011 4:38 pm

    Whatever happened to The Harlem Globe Trotters? I saw them when the came to the UK when I was around 10! I guess the guys I saw are all old and retired by now!

    still around, always getting new guys to replace the older guys

  4. November 3, 2011 5:08 pm

    What’s an “NBA”? I’d probably have better understood what you were talking about if you had included pictures of some good-looking players in your post.

    Here ya go
    Joakim Noah is ugly

  5. November 7, 2011 2:50 am

    You know, you’re right, I’ve hardly seen anything about it in the news. I’d almost forgotten all about it. Then again, I’m not much of a basketball fan. I liked watching MJ because he truly was poetry in motion. Other than that, the squealy shoes on the court bug me.

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