Life Lessons From the Lockout
So much to learn from this.
The already interminable NBA lockout has taught me many things in a very short amount of time. It’s taught me that I really don’t need NBA TV on my cable television package if they can’t show current NBA players. It’s taught me that my wife may have had a legitimate complaint when she said that she felt like a widow from October to June. And it’s also taught me that if there’s one thing that Americans can always find a way to argue about, it’s dividing up money.
Here are five other truths I’ve learned from reading about the lockout and its potential fallout.
1. Accepting a job offer for a position I’m qualified to hold is unethical if my acceptance means that a less qualified person will lose their job. This is particularly true if I have more money than the less qualified person mainly because they weren’t qualified to hold the job I just lost.
How many columnists are going to make the tired argument that by jumping ship to play in European Leagues our favorite NBA players are not only betraying the union (which has endorsed the move), but they are also betraying American players scrabbling for spots in Euro Leagues?
Does that mean that if you make a move from the New York Times features department to the Washington Post’s city desk you’ve betrayed all the interns who were hoping for that same job?
Or, even better, if you leave your high profile columnist gig for your local newspaper to stack paper as a talking head for ESPN then it’s a betrayal of all the folks who actually went to school for broadcast journalism and have spent hours fine-tuning their audition tapes for a chance to be a star at the Worldwide Leader in Sports?
I didn’t think so. It’s curious that in a media world characterized by people constantly looking for the best opportunity to maximize their revenue and security, basketball players are being told that it’s wrong for them to do the same because somebody else should have those jobs. Mighty curious indeed.
2. Obtaining the best possible deal for me is a bad move if I already make a good living.
Apparently capitalism is only acceptable when practiced by people who aren’t freakishly large or tall.
Most Americans understand basic capitalist theory, right? The idea that the market decides the price of goods and services and artificial caps are a bad idea is a bedrock belief for many of this country’s citizens.
Yet it seems like those beliefs don’t really matter when people decide to discuss professional sports. When professional athletes are discussed there seems to be a belief that seeking the best possible deal for your talents is unethical because athletes are “lucky” enough to already make a lot of money.
Don’t worry; everyone else in America is exempt from this rule. We voted.
3. If I lost my job because I refused to take a pay cut, and then I take another job that requires a pay cut, I really should have just kept my first job.
It seems that the idea of negotiating and leverage are foreign to some sports fans and sportswriters. This is the only explanation for why some fans and sportswriters are upset that NBA players are willing to take less money to play on foreign soil than they would to play right here in the USA.
After all, shouldn’t it be obvious that the NBA as a business makes far more money than any of its competitors? Given that fact, it would be ludicrous if NBA players expected the same mega-salaries from foreign leagues that they get at home when those leagues don’t have anywhere near the same revenue streams.
It would also appear obvious that playing in foreign leagues with opt out clauses is only Plan B for NBA players, and is likely meant to supplement the money they have managed to save from their lucrative NBA deals, not replace it.
With all of these obvious reasons why it makes sense to take less money to play in Europe or elsewhere, why are so many American journalists complaining about the practice?
It’s almost as if American journalists are pouting that they will be denied the chance to watch NBA basketball while players will still be earning money. That can’t be the problem, can it?
4. Even if I have unique skills that qualified me for a highly competitive job that can result in extreme pain and has a very short career length I should feel lucky to have that job because there are billions of unqualified people who would do the same job for far less.
Clearly playing in the NBA is the dream job for a lot of fans and sportswriters. Many of these people believe they would be willing to do these jobs for a tiny fraction of what most athletes make. Unfortunately, there isn’t much of a market for watching these would-be NBA ballers wheeze their way up and down a court, clanking jumpers while extolling the beauty of the game beneath the rim. NBA players are paid huge salaries because fans really want to watch them play basketball, and those fans pay NBA owners accordingly. Very few people are willing to pay $1,200 to sit courtside at the local YMCA. But they will pay that price and more when the Miami Heat come to town because they know they are guaranteed to see basketball played at the highest level in the world.
And don’t forget that while 57 percent of those ticket prices go to pay for the salaries of NBA players, the remaining 43 percent will be collected by owners to spend as they please.
It doesn’t matter how many people would love to play in the NBA the same way it doesn’t matter how many people all over the world who would love to come to America to work the jobs of your average American citizen. If desire was the only qualification for a great job, nobody would clean toilets.
5. My job is not important if children do it for fun.
I have two sons and they play basketball for fun. It’s on a three-foot hoop and they never dribble, but they still play basketball. They also like to write, color, draw, walk, run and read. My oldest son can even do simple addition now. Does that mean that jobs that use these same skills are no longer important because children like to do them for fun?
Who cares if children play basketball for fun? While it’s great to watch your offspring excel at athletics, nobody is going to ever mistake the local recreation league game for an NBA contest. Attempts to denigrate the value of what NBA players do based on the fact that they play a “kids’ game” are ludicrous. Yes, children play basketball, but it’s obvious what they do is nothing like what happens in the NBA.
It’s even more ridiculous when the most outspoken critics of players and their professions are sportswriters whose jobs entail writing stories about players who play games for a living. That’s right, sportswriters don’t actually play the games; they just document them for posterity.
If most NBA fans were honest, they’d admit that their jobs aren’t adding that much to the overall well-being of mankind either. The only difference between them and NBA players is the size of their paychecks, and number of people who could do their jobs just as well.