'Psychic Benefits' and the NBA Lockout
Old 08-25-2011, 03:37 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Cool 'Psychic Benefits' and the NBA Lockout

An abstract look at the lockout from the author of Blink and the Tipping Point, two of my favourite books of all time. Malcolm Gladwell is an interesting guy.

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The Boston Red Sox signed their first black player in 1959, a utility infielder named "Pumpsie" Green.1 This was 12 years after the Brooklyn Dodgers broke the color line with Jackie Robinson. No other team in baseball dragged its feet on integration like the Red Sox. It wasn't until 1965, in fact 18 years after Robinson started at second base for the Dodgers that Boston had its first full-time black player. Why?

Yawkey was not just a racist, in other words. He was a racist who put his hatred of black people ahead of his desire to make money. Economists have a special term they use to describe this kind of attitude. They would say that Yawkey owned the Red Sox not to maximize his financial benefits, but, rather, his psychic benefits. Psychic benefits describe the pleasure that someone gets from owning something over and above economic returns and clearly some part of the pleasure Yawkey got from the Red Sox came from not having to look at black people when he walked through the Fenway Park dugout. In discussions of pro sports, the role of psychic benefits doesn't get a lot of attention. But it should, because it is the key to understanding all kinds of behavior by sports owners most recently the peculiar position taken by management in the NBA labor dispute.
Malcolm Gladwell on the NBA lockout - Grantland
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Old 08-25-2011, 06:11 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Very interesting. I enjoy and agree with his philosophical arguments as well as how he questions and illuminates different value judgments.
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Old 08-25-2011, 07:34 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Nice piece. He mentions the feudal-type operations of MLB until 1970. And I think he missed a chance to make a connection there. To me it feels like the owners would like to get closer to such an arrangement, which means the argument about it being a business is extremely cynical, due to them always looking to remove business decisions from the equation while profits roll in for ten years no matter what their level of business acumen might be.
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Old 08-25-2011, 09:38 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Willie O'Ree played for the Bruins in 1958.
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Old 08-25-2011, 10:23 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Acie View Post
Willie O'Ree played for the Bruins in 1958.
from gladwell's 3rd footnote:

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Jon Lanning, "Productivity, Discrimination, and Lost Profits During Baseball's Integration," The Journal of Economic History (2010), 70: 964-988. I have heard some Boston fans claim that their city was so racist that it could never have handled a black player before the end of the 1950s. In other words, that Yawkey was a rational actor. But what about the Boston Braves? They integrated in 1950.
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Old 08-25-2011, 11:21 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thought View Post
An abstract look at the lockout from the author of Blink and the Tipping Point, two of my favourite books of all time. Malcolm Gladwell is an interesting guy.



Malcolm Gladwell on the NBA lockout - Grantland
Brings ole Harold Ballard to mind.
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Old 08-25-2011, 11:50 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Great article!

The point on franchise valuations is a good one: even though these "businesses" may not turn massive annual profits for all of the owners (just most of them - those with winning teams and in medium to large sized markets), if the owners just hold on to the team for a few years and then sell it, they will invariably turn a profit selling the team because team valuations are constantly increasing and buyers always overpay for teams anyways due to their rarity.
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Old 08-26-2011, 02:52 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I got to sit at a table with two media dudes (marek and grange) talking about the NBA lockout. They got super in depth about this very stuff. It got dizzying, so me and Cuda just drank beer!
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Old 08-26-2011, 06:05 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Very stupid in my opinion, he acts like every team in the nba is owned by a rich owner who cares about basketball and because of that, shouldn't complain about losing money. Despite what he thinks basketball is a business, as long as your spending money and making money, its a business. The way this article is written makes you think that he believes that the owners look at there teams and players like nothing more than trading cards. Unlike art purchasing an nba team doesn't mean that it will be worth more later on, and also unlike art your not spending millions after you've purchased a painting to keep the painting hanging on your wall.
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Old 08-27-2011, 01:22 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I could not get past the first 100 pages in "what the dog saw..." I don't get why this guys work is so famous. I love non-ficton but it was just dry and dull. Do I need to try another?
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Old 08-27-2011, 06:48 PM   #11 (permalink)
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You can doctor up the terminology of the reasoning behind NBA owners choice of why they bought the team. Can't change the fact that Stern's little playground is sinking like submarine.
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