Show Me The Money
Candice Wiggins pens an open letter to The Economist.
by Candice Wiggins / @candicewiggins
It’s a hectic time right now for WNBA players around the league, as we are in the middle of a very competitive and thrilling season. One thing that isn’t apparent is which team will end up in first place; we all want that title. However, some things that are apparent and hard to ignore, are the issues surrounding our “brother” league, the NBA.
During the season most of the reading I do consists of scouting reports, but as our travel schedule and our visits to airports throughout the country increases, I find myself idly walking to the newsstand and reading through The Economist. Today I stumbled upon an article briefly discussing the issues surrounding the NBA lockout, and I was inspired to write a letter to the editor. Of course there is some bias involved on my part, but considering that there was also bias in the article from the reporter, I feel as though my bias is necessary.
After reading the article “Basketball on Strike: Second Down” I have to propose a few questions regarding the subject on the NBA’s lockout, and it basically comes down to the numbers—or lack thereof.
There were claims that 22 out of the 30 NBA teams are losing money. I wonder specifically who these teams are and what are the details surrounding the losses? Are these undisclosed matters? Out of the 450 jobless men, we know that their average salary last year was $5 million, but what is the average loss among the 22 teams? I find it difficult to assess what is “fair” and what isn’t, without these critical numbers factored in. It might be a simple question, or it might be the most complicated question, but it’s still an important question that I believe needs to be answered, publicly if necessary.
One thing I can definitely agree on is the need for a fundamental change in the economic structure of the league, a legitimate concern for the owners. One of the greatest men I have had the honor to get to know is the Minnesota Timberwolves/Lynx owner Glen Taylor, an incredibly altruistic man who invests in both of our leagues because he truly believes in the dynamics of team sports. He’s a pure example of an owner with integrity, and has even gone out of his way to invite our entire team over to his home to get to know the players and staff on a personal level. Being a professional athlete myself, and getting to know how special of an owner Glen Taylor is, I am completely empathetic to both sides.
There are, however, several “unknown unknowns.” For example, the article states: “[Owners] also want to see the league’s revenues, which amounted to $3.8 Billion last season according to Forbes, split up in a way that is much more favourable to them and less favorable to the players.” A new economic structure is clearly an absolute necessity, but I have to question the correlation between all the numbers involving both players and owners, and how that will play into the restructuring. Money is being lost; money is being gained…but exactly how much? Until those figures are produced and are as tangible to the public eye as the player’s salaries, I find it unfairly hard to argue one way or the other. As a life-long fan of the game of basketball, it’s desperate times like these that make you have a Cuba Gooding Jr. in Jerry McGuire moment and scream out “Show me the money!” Restraint will be even more difficult when the NBA season approaches. I understand that most fans don’t even understand what a lockout is. The bottom line is, we live in a supply and demand world, and the demand for the NBA is always going to be high. In the meantime, the supply component needs to be worked out, but there are some jarring moments from the article that make me anxiously pessimistic. The last line of the article states “…some owners may actually prefer to forgo another unprofitable season if it results in a better deal”. That’s jaw dropping. It doesn’t matter about the questions the players and owners have, the fans have the most important question to answer: Why can’t we see our favorite players play?
The answer to that question lies strictly in the numbers, but how are we going to justify these numbers to the public?
Help get this article to The Economist (@theeconomist) and keep the conversation going…follow me @candicewiggins on Twitter, and feel free to share this article and your thoughts with everyone (including me)! And be sure to watch and follow the Minnesota Lynx (@minnesotalynx) this summer, as well as the WNBA (@wnba).