Dwight Watt Internet Article #16

#16 - The NBA 1/4/1999

#16 - The NBA

The NBA (National Basketball League for those that don't remember when we had a major men's basketball league) has had a labor lockout since July 1, 1998 and the question continues to be who misses it besides the employees and the owners. The dispute is over how much of the income must go to salaries. The owners claim they will go broke paying the percentage the players want. The players claim they deserve more.

On first appearance it appears to be the owners have a strong point. They own the teams, are paying salaries greater than the minimum wage, and risk their money with the team. They state they want to set limits on the maximum salary.

The players in turn argue their skills are very specialized and that they deserve top pay for their use. Since most owners are white and most owners are black, they have also raised racism claims that the owners are taking advantage. The players are also concerned about their poor fellow NBA players and scheduled a charity game for them and UNICEF. After adverse publicity all profits went to UNICEF.

Now the problems. The owners are charging such high prices that the average American cannot afford to attend the games, but yet most are played in tax built and/or supported arenas. The players are making a minimum of over $250,000 per year to a maximum in the tens of millions. Now in both cases this applies to the men's league.

It is time for the owners and the players to wake up. This is not a slavery system. The players are welcome to go to work in any other skill at any time, including flipping burgers. Both need to realize that the yearly incomes they are talking about exceeds the lifetime incomes of most of their fans and Americans. The players also need to realize they can take their skills to the minor leagues at any time or to Europe. Agreed it is a salary cut, we don't always get the best salary with the best job.

If the players are concerned about unfair wages, why are they not fighting to make WNBA salaries equitable with the NBA? If the owners really want the public behind them, price the tickets a lot cheaper. $45-$75 per person to see a game is absurd.

I recommend both sides come to their senses and reduce not just the salaries, but also the ticket prices. Work to make the WNBA a more equitable sport. The players need to work on showing the public they better understand the money entrusted in them. Until they both come to realize the prices of players, teams, and tickets are way out of line, we may never see the NBA again or accepted by the public.


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