Dallas owner Mark Cuban stands by the Larry O'Brien trophy before the Miami Heat vs. the Dallas Mavericks NBA basketball season opener at the American Airlines Center in Dallas on Sunday, December 25, 2011. / mug - mugshot - headshot - portrait / (Louis DeLuca/The Dallas Morning News)
So I’ve been thinking a lot about amateurism, salary caps, max contracts and revenue splits in professional sports, especially the NBA, lately. I’ve come to the conclusion that they’re horseshit. They function as a means as which to artificially deflate the value of people who possess very valuable, in-demand skill sets.
As it stands, the NBA’s revenue split sees anywhere from 49 to 51.5% of the profits going to the players while the remainder goes to the owners. Every time I read this it leaves me with the following discussions in my mind:
What the fuck do the owners actually do to deserve so much money?
I understand that early on in the NBA’s history the owners made initial investments in the league and operated at a loss for decades, it was basically their passion project. I also understand that the current crop of owners paid tons of money to acquire their franchises. That’s why this is a thought experiment and not a call to action. But the owners don’t really do anything to deserve the money they earn from the NBA short of signing checks and shutting the hell up when their GM/team president makes a directive.
Sure the owners sign the checks, but they’re not spending their money when they do, they’re spending the team’s money, and the teams have ashitload of money. So no, they’re really not useful on the money front because the game pays for itself.
Does the league really need them?
Fuck no. I just illustrated how they don’t do shit.
Nobody goes to American Airlines Arena to watch Micky Arison.
Mikhail Prokhorov may be 6 foot 9 but nobody wants to see him ball.
If they were replaced by those machines you speak into at Sonic would it even matter to 99.9% of the people out there?
These guys serve absolutely no purpose save for pocketing the profits off the backs of the people who do the real work: the players. In the coming years, the owners will pocket even more money than they already take home thanks to an incoming tsunami of TV money because the game is more watchable than ever. And that is due entirely to the talent and hard work of the players. It is also due in no part to the owners.
Why not do away with NBA owners and let the players take 100% of the profits?
I mean the structure of the league doesn’t need to change. There can still be team presidents, executives, general managers, committees, even a commissioner. The only difference is that they would be working in the best interest of the guys who are the actual commodities and not the do-nothing feudal lords. Rather than taking about half the profits the players would take all after overhead. Not only would this ensure that the profits go to the people who deserve them the most, it would eliminate the grifty exploitative owner class that milks communities for mountains of cash and turns tidy profits without having to work for it at all.
I know that this idea isn’t going to be particularly popular because people hate having conventional wisdom questioned, but I don’t care. In the grand scheme of things the owners don’t matter, they don’t do anything, they get rich through other people, and they aren’t essential to anything. So why not get them outta there?