Monday, 28 November 2011 22:45

Occupy NBA? - 28 NOV 2011

Occupy NBA?

by Jonathan Barnes, Supervising Editor

© 2011 Collapsenet, Inc., Please Distribute Widely.

Nov.28, 2011, LOS ANGELES -- With the recent news of the NBA lockout possibly ending, most NBA fans rejoiced and cheered the end of “nuclear winter” in basketball. I am just as much of a sports fan as any other out there in the world, but when hearing this news and reading the details, I began to ask is there really anything to rejoice about?

The arguments that have been lashed back and forth between the owners and players have been a pure example of the infinite growth paradigm. While this lockout has so many dimensions and depth for the reasons behind the standoff, the simplest explanation is a fight over money and profits between millionaires and billionaires, and the refusal to look at the reality of our world. Yes, players are entitled to their fair share of profits, but instead of evolving and actually working to restructure the league to possibly survive our current collapse, they are dinosaurs who cannot see beyond their wallet. As Mike Ruppert says, “Until you change the way money works, you change nothing.”

So that has led me to wonder, should we sports fans who are the thankless funders of this league embrace this old dying machine or should we “occupynba?” I mean we do get our “thank you” here and there on commercials, but that isn’t the real currency we are looking for is it. Where are our benefits at the box office when purchasing tickets?

What is also amazing is that the model and strategy that the owners of the NBA have used throughout this lockout truly mirrors that of what we are viewing in the geo-political world. Banks and sovereign governments are squabbling over loans and bad debt that the citizens had no control over. David Stern, NBA Owners and the players are squabbling over money that fans have no real control over. Who is the big loser here? Us…the 99 percent. To see the parallels, let us look at each perspective:

The Owners Perspective

The owners are locking the NBA players out because their profits are too low (their claim is that they are taking a loss). Using the simplest math, a good businessperson, in this current paradigm, would either cut the bad costs or raise revenue. Instead of pursuing these two options, the owners are trying to cut their stable costs. However, really what they are doing is refusing to evolve and publicly recognize their failure to address a true culprit of the NBA’s issues…peak oil.

Operating Costs

The League claims an operating loss of 300 Million this year. Players’ salaries are often the focus, but this often disinformation. The key fact to start with is that Players’ salaries are a fixed Cost at 57 percent of NBA Gross revenue. All salary cap rhetoric is essentially crap. By having player contracts fixed league revenues, player salaries cannot balloon out of control. The league in fact has controls in place in the CBA to keep that number fixed. In fact the owners want to reduce the fixed cost from 57 to 50 percent, which was the main cause of disagreement in the lockout.

The true heart of the matter for the NBA owners is that they have been increasing their spending. Management’s operating costs, per their published figures, have been going up at five times the level of inflation.  Some of these costs are due to horrible management decisions, but there is a red flag of concern that should be of no surprise to CollaspeNet members. Cheap energy is no longer available, and charter jets are expensive.

Oil prices have gone up, and this is a having a huge effect on not just the NBA but also the entire sports world. If you research the average cost for a charter jet , current prices are approximately $10,000 hourly. When taking into the account the amount of travel expenses required for the current model, owners realize the prognosis. However, instead of restructuring the league to evolve, they are sticking to the same half measures to try to solve a crisis that will not go away unless you change your complete consciousness.

With the end of cheap oil, not only are charter jets are expensive, but so is electricity. Current average cost figures to power one NBA game is approximately $20,000. Costs in other leagues, such as the NFL, are even worse. For example, the Dallas Cowboys monthly electricity bill is $200,000, with future projected costs expected to skyrocket. With costs sure to rise exponentially as collapse continues, these operating costs are not sustainable and I believe most of the owners that matter recognize this. However, they refuse to approach the problem with effective solutions.

The NBA owners are seeking a fundamental change in the structure of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA), while the players are just trying to hang on to what they had. Looking back at the history of collective bargaining in professional sports, a clear trend emerges: Significant work stoppages occur when one side is looking for a sea change in the relationship between the parties. For example, in 1998-99, the NBA owners’ insistence on a cap on maximum player salaries (which they got) led to a lockout that canceled 464 regular-season games. In 1994-95, the MLB owners’ insistence on a salary cap (which they did not get) led to a strike that canceled 920 games, including the postseason and the World Series.

The Players Perspective

Players’ salaries have stayed even with inflation as a whole across the league. Essentially this means their pay has not been going up. Though it is hard to have sympathy for players that earn million dollar salaries, does not this sound like a similar position the 99 percent movement is feeling globally.

As stated above, the players have been fighting the reduction in the split of basketball related income, which is tied to their paychecks. So why would they all of a sudden succumb to NBA demands? Well…money obviously. Throughout this lockout, there have been numerous stories of players being forced to take high interest short-term loans to survive the current strike, as discussed in Huffington’s Post recent article.

After locked-out NBA players missed what would have been their first paychecks last week -- an average of $425,000 -- a Beverly Hills financial firm announced Tuesday it was ponying up $50 million in loan money for the out-of-work millionaires.

Paratum, an independent bank going after the players, rates are not as favorable as banks… then again some NBA players, facing long unemployment, might struggle going one-on-one with banks.

Though not stated within this article, other stories describe interest rates for current unemployed players as ranging from 15-120 percent. After 150 days of the lockout, it should not be of any surprise that these loans are not sustainable for the players and many are going bankrupt. Hence, they need work. Hence, they are willing to sacrifice their ideals and once again become a slave to the infinite growth paradigm.

Though I can relate to the players’ challenges, they are no worse than the owners because they both are so isolated from the real world, that they cannot see that they are only tightening the noose around their neck and essentially ensuring a collapse in the near future.

The Forgotten: The Fans

While fans says it’s good news that NBA owners and players have reached a tentative deal to end the “lockout” that began July 1, there's no great joy if you're a fan on a fixed income, or simply put, part of the 99 percent.

NBA tickets today are priced for the rich or well off fan who can afford an extra $500 to spend on viewing a live NBA basketball game.

NBA fans will now pay higher prices for both tickets and other venue costs, say officials for professional basketball ticket outlets nationwide. In turn, NBA players can now expect a boost in player compensation – from what NBA.com reports as “the current average of about $5 million to nearly $7 million” – while fans can expect NBA owners “to surely increase ticket sales and the rest,” adds Portland NBA fan Jerry who recalls when “a Trailblazer ticket was under $20 bucks just 10 years ago.”

There is no respect for fans. They welcome the NBA season now that the lockout is over, but what do the fans get? Nothing except higher prices to maintain the profit structures and expenses for NBA players and owners. Again, doesn’t this relate to the real word we are all dealing with around the globe?

Per seatgeek.com or stubhub.com, before the recent NBA lockout, if a fan wanted to watch the Miami Heat play, they would have to pay an average ticket price of $235.19. If you want to see the Dallas Mavericks, average costs are $170.47

Part of the new agreement includes passing on any excess costs onto the fans. In addition, do not forget to include parking, taxes, ticket fees or $8-15 for a cup of beer or a $7 hot dog.

Per Huliq.com

The end of the National Basketball Players Association lookout could result in a “doomsday” for professional basketball, with fans doing an “Occupy NBA” and rejecting the game as ticket and other costs are expected to increase with owner passing on higher costs to fans.

“It's going to be very interesting to see if these doomsday predictions that have been made about big-time sports for decades now as the price of sports has gone up, the price of tickets, and there's always been this talk, are fans going to keep paying these prices? Moreover, they always have. It's going to be interesting now to see if they do this time. Is this sort of the doomsday scenario that everybody has been talking about,” explained Ian Thomsen, a senior writer for Sports Illustrated during a recent interview on National Public Radio (NPR).

Experts also say the recent NBA impasse is linked to massive greed by both owners and players, who simply want more of the profits, said a fan who also noted how he’s “disgusted with the whole thing,” and has “already written off the season.”

What’s on the table for both sides is more than $4 billion in NBA profits, while ticket prices to attend an NBA game has gone up and up, even while the country is being rocked with an ongoing recession.”

Occupy NBA?

After looking at some of the dynamics involved in the current NBA lockout, fans everywhere should hold anger on some level. The fact of the matter is that we are being screwed in this dimension, just as we are in the political, financial and wall street dimensions. Though it is painful for me to propose, as an avid sports fan, it is imperative that we send the same message to the NBA powers-that-be that we have been sending to Wall Street and our governments.

Though the NBA may make a comeback, they are doomed because all of the new agreements are based on the assumptions of infinite growth. True facts are personal attendance is significantly down year over year in the last 10 years. Corporations are replacing families in the stadiums because they are the only ones who can afford current and future ticket prices on a recurring basis. If we want to enact change at all levels, the NBA is not immune:

  • Stop buying NBA merchandise
     
  • Turn off the TV

Ratings are king and are the true fund for the NBA. Without the coveted television monies, the NBA is dead. The fans hold the power to send the message the league needs to hear and this power is turning off the television.
 

  • If people were angry enough to protest outside stadiums and occupy the NBA, it would be prudent to demand a collective bargaining agreement that recognizes the fans, and presents and entirely new economic model that is not based on infinite growth but on localization because that is where we are headed. We need to stop the pipe dreams of having a global basketball league, because that will not happen with peak oil. If we localized the league, created more local teams within states, the NBA could have a better chance at survival. However, continuing on the current path just makes not only the NBA, but sports a dead man walking.

 

In the grand scheme of things, the NBA problems and worries of whether or not there will be a season are very small when comparing them to the life or death matters of the collapse of industrial civilization. However, what is important is to realize and recognize that the subterfuge of infinite growth is present and around us, even in the most unsuspecting corners of life, such as the NBA.

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