is nba ball comparable to other jobs?
Old 11-11-2011, 01:17 PM   #1 (permalink)

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Default is nba ball comparable to other jobs?

All the union leadership countered with was vague talk about “system issues” and how they were unfair. They didn’t put it in relatable terms. They didn’t bother to ask the fans how they would feel if they were told where they had to work for their first four years out of school, or if their employers, with no advance warning, could send them to another city. Fans like to counter that it doesn’t matter because the players make a lot of money, but the salaries are irrelevant – doctors, lawyers and Wall Street traders can be highly compensated as well without the same restrictions. Besides, if fans want to make this about money, then they can’t be mad if their favorite player leaves their team to sign a bigger contract elsewhere.

this quote is from adande's analysis on truehoop. i find this argument to be a complete load of bullshit. the nba is not like other jobs, and especially not like health care, law and finance. there are only 30 potential teams, and there is really only one potential employer - the nba. this changes things. just like any large organization, once you agree to a contract, they will place you somewhere within that corporate structure. if i get a job at a company, it might move me to a branch office or request a transfer to another city. i can quit, or i can request an accomodation, but ultimately the organization needs to serve it's customers in the best way possible, and it can determine where i will work.

the difference for teh nba is that there are no otehr competitors. you can quit cibc and go to work for rbc, or quit one law firm to go ito another. you can't do that at the same level for teh nba. your other choices are european or international leagues, the d-league, the globetrotters, etc. clearly not the same kind of thing.

so the nba has an effective monopoly, it has a collective agreement that deals with player movement, it has it's own internal revenue sharing,it has all kinds of unusual partnerships, and it is very insular. not to mention that it has a draft, which almost no otehr employers do.

so in the end i think this analysis is a crock of shit. it has nothing to do with the amount of money they are being paid, and everything to do with a unique kind of employer (matched only by other pro sports teams).

anyone have an opinion? what am i missing? is the nba the same as any other kind of employer? are pro athletes just normal employees of a standard organization?
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Old 11-11-2011, 01:57 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I agree 'Trane. An unequivocally ugly, frozen (steaming would connote 'fresh' and this argument is as old as capitalism) pile of shit. Good one J.A.! Let's compare basketball players to the top 0.25% of Traders, Investment Bankers and the like, when in fact on a political level, they're "employees" who get paid an awful lot of money to do what they do?

Here's a line of thinking straight out of Marx. People are teachers and they get paid shit in comparison to basketball players. The Prof (who has a PhD) I TA for right now does about 10x the work I do and makes less than I do. Yet, there seems to be an ideology that says what these people are doing is "admirable", and that this admiration is enough of a reward for them to not demand "exhorbitant" levels of cash. A Prof can make less than a janitor in this system and still achieve a certain level of esteem because of the cultural capital their position carries with it.

Now let's look at what free agency did? Previous to this moment there wasn't much parity between players' salaries in professional sports. In fact, it wasn't until the post WWII economic explosion in the U.S. that you actually had professional athletes. It wasn't all that uncommon to hear of a baseball player or basketball player working at another job on the side to make ends meet. Being a professional athlete had the same sort of ideological implication as my Prof. example. There's another type of capital at play here, not actual dollars and sense. All the money essentially went to the owners.

Free agency changed all of that. Bidding wars, agents, unions, more pieces of the pie, globalization, PR, information technology, sports science, marketing, endorsements, etc all worked at creating this giant money making machine we know as the NBA. The players unionization is good in only one sense to me. They upset the possibility of having a Walmart model (plantation capitalism) of organizing a workforce on a professional level.

This is where the good of the Union starts and stops for me. These are very privileged individuals who have scholarships, boosters, and other perks thrown in their lap before they even step into the league. I understand the implications of some of their origins, and how difficult it is (a difficulty I can't comprehend) to be a black male in a Post 9/11 America. But the point of a Union is to work not only for the present rights of their members, and its future, but ensure that workers in general, workers the world over are free from an exploitative work environment. Can we make the argument that NBA players are exploited? They all live pretty cushy lifestyles, have personal chefs, personal trainers, per diems in excess of 400$, etc etc. Steve Smith was arguing for the fight for benefits for guys that will make at minimum at least one million dollars over their career. NBA players are the highest paid athletes in North America when you take into account all of their perks, BRI, endorsements etc. Do they need a union to secure their piece of the pie?

Having worked in Unions, I see the NBPA's rhetoric and position within this massive, complex money making machine as nothing more than a blatant appropriation. The argument is that they're workers. But people don't spend their time and money watching another person work. Granted, some people enjoy watching a player perform on the floor that has 'worker' (JYD, Rodman, AC Green) qualities, but basketball is understood as to be 'something more" than mere work. It's a luxurious, and glamourous, and fucked up lifestyle. So, no, the NBA is not an employer. Using that logic is an attempt to obfuscate us from the reality that we all think its okay for some people to make shit loads of money for playing a game while the working class continuously makes less and less for doing the same, if not more work year in and year out.
Rich people appropriating union morals, ideals, and work is a disgusting thing in my mind. Its a betrayal as to why we need unions in the first place.
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Old 11-11-2011, 05:10 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Agreed. But I find the position of the owners to be about as full of crap. It has been oft repeated that the owners take all the risks, and I just don't see where all that risk is for them. How can a person afford to shut everything down for a year, and have some talk about two years, and really be looking at much risk? I also don't agree with the idea that the players need to be put in their place and see that they are replaceable, because they just aren't, and it's not any kind of solution. I'm just ick and tired of the business of sports from a-z. It's bullshit piled on top of bullshit, and the only real honest and long-term solution to the ongoing gulf between two sides that veer towards irresponsible behavior towards the game in the name of self-interest, is a clear partnership where players own a piece of the pie and can work with owners towards responsible stewardship of the league to better the game.
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Old 11-11-2011, 06:31 PM   #4 (permalink)
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You can't make this argument at all, the fact is every single person in the NBA organisation is extremely overpaid. How about instead of fighting over 1-2% they give that revenue to charity to the people who really need it. (Although I understand they just want those few percent so one will have more control than the other but would they every give the extra there fighting about to charity and split the rest, nope never.) Besides I can beat his argument with one sentence. Some surgeons need to have 15 years of gruelling post-secondary school education before they earn their first pay check, which is only about a third of what a late second round rookie would make. Sure most NBA players have been playing basketball since they were kids but guess what, I'm guessing about at least 85 percent of surgeons had good grades as kids as well as university. So while NBA players were working hard playing a game, surgeons were working hard in school. So if a player gets forced to go play for another city, he sure as hell better go.

Last edited by Blaze; 11-11-2011 at 06:39 PM.
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