Thursday, 30 June 2011

Salary of $ 25 million and on strike

Just imagine this. You earn a salary of $ 25m a year. And then you go on strike demanding improved wages. Believable ?? You better believe it. Kobe Bryant (arguably the best basketball player in the world, for those readers not familiar with sport), earns that salary, but is on strike from tonight. Actually not just Kobe. Every basketball player who plays in the NBA ( unsporting types - that's the National Basketball Association, which runs the League in the US of A.)

The NBA is a private league. Players have formed a union and there is a collective bargaining agreement every few years. The last agreement expires today. Negotiations with owners of the teams has broken down. No deal; so there is a lock out.

The team owners are losing money. The players claim they aren't getting enough money. Despite the wild popularity of the game. Unlike other American sports such as Football (the American variety) and Baseball, which have limited appeal outside the country, basketball  is wildly popular in Europe, and most important of all, in China. Yet the League loses money. As always, money is at the heart of the dispute.

The issues under negotiations are technical, perhaps only of interest to a die hard NBA fan like myself. Both the owners and the players are driven by absurd greed. The trouble is that there are a lot of others, who depend on the NBA for a living, but who don't have a say in this matter. You would think the players should be the last group that needs a union, but that's the way it is. With the lockout, what's going to happen to the cheerleaders. The ushers and ticket sellers in  the stadiums. The guys who clean the locker rooms. The pretzel sellers. All out of a job and on the dole.

And what about the fan. He's the one who pays all of them - owners and players included. If the millions like me stop following the game, there is no $25m for Mr Bryant. Of all the people the owners and the players are taking for granted, its the fan. The poor little (or big !) Joe Public who is passionate about the game. Who relives every great moment in the sport. Who remembers the famous dunk of Shaq against Portland. Or Jordan's 20 footer in Game 6 against the Jazz with 5.2 seconds to go. Or his 38 points against the unfortunate Jazz, battling flu, dehydration , sick as hell. Even Derek Fisher, the current head of the Players Union winning against the Spurs with a shot taken  0.4 seconds before time expired.

You lot - owners and players alike -  need a bollocking. Pampered rich kids who need to stop throwing tantrums. Don't quibble over small change when you guys are very well off. Get an agreement, lift the lockout.

And may the great game keep flowing.


Vishal said...

Of all the stakeholders, it is the players who are going on strike? Unbelievable! When everyone is making huge money (I heard $25m), then why so much cry about this greed? Sportsmen are still fairly treated in the US of A. Look at hockey conditions in our own country. If neither of the parties realize that it is the polularity which pumps in that money and if they don't struck a deal, indeed would be a sorry stage for the game.

P.S. Is there any sport in the world that you don't follow? ;)

Sandhya Sriram said...

What is the right compensation is a very amazing debate?

Lets start from your favourite species - the auto drivers in Chennai - dont we feel, they are taking us for a ride (pun intended).. so how much extra is he charging - lets say - 50 bucks for a distance which is 30 bucks per rate - now he believes, he is underpaid @ 30 even though you may disagree and he believes he is right loading that premium on you.

Ok, lets look at your next favourite species, the protestors for the defined benefit scheme > they feel they are entitled for the last drawn pay all their life, we dont believe so...

if you go little retro - on your piece on robert diamond
now a few more millions to his billion dollar kitty - havent you yourself felt it as justified, but tom peter doesnt.

Well, my view on the Pay is that it is between the Payer and the Payee to arrive at what they feel is optimal. others dont have a locus standi to comment.

The spectator will watch the game if he finds it interesting whether you pay $ 25 M or $ 25 to your fav Bryant. I think we have to acknowledge that sports has become an entertainment and entertainment a business. so, let the laws of business prevail

Anonymous said...

The NBA and NFL don't seem to remember the lessons of the MLB strike. It killed the game. Turn on a baseball game nowadays and the stadiums are empty. A trend that started even before all the steroid controversy which served to put the game in further decline.

Couple the greedy antics with all the off the field issues that so many players in the NFL and NBA have and there are a whole lot of us mainstream (80% of the fanbase) fans who are finding it harder and harder to care about these teams anymore. The passion I had for NBA basketball during the Bird/Magic era has all but eroded. I believe a strike would be the final nail for me as well.

I don't just blame the players, particularly in the NFL, the owners have been crying poverty, but uhhhh, "we aren't going to show you the books", just you know, trust us and stuff.

There has always been a lot of talk about what would make soccer as popular in the states as it is in the rest of the world. Honestly, the actions of the NBA, NFL, and MLB, their owners, and players, will be the ones that make soccer finally catch on in the states. I can't remember the last time a US soccer player was involved in any 'off the field' issues and they seem to do it for a passion of the game as there really isn't a lot of money in it. One can only hope that if soccer ever does go mainstream, that they will remember the lessons of the big 3 and won't let the money destroy the game.

Greed has certainly proven out to be one of the deadlier sins. Heck, it seems to be destroying the world around us, let alone a few sporting organizations. The total disregard for the fans by the NBA and NFL, this may ultimately be what makes soccer huge in the states. I know I already prefer it, and I never thought that would have been possible.

gils said...

nimmadhi..hope the cricketers follow suit..this will clear out the old blood and ring in new...mite get boring and viewership kandipa adivaangum..but new players wl get chance

J said...

Oh I remember Michael Jordan's flu game so well even though I wasn't following basketball that closely. But I just loved to watch Jordan's fluid motion on the court. This lockout is such a turn off for everyone but possibly the real die hard fans. I often wonder if it is only the stinking rich who are perpetually greedy for money. That's probably how they got their money to begin with.

Ramesh said...

@Vishal - As Sandhya says its not the absolute quantum of salary - its the perception that its not a fair price. Even the millions look unfair to the NBA players.

@Hopfrog - I was looking forward to your comment, from a fellow sports fan. The NFL lockout can be more blamed on the owners as you have noted - they actually make a profit and are not publishing accounts. In the NBA case, the players are being extreme, I think. Never thought I would be sympathetic to Mark Cuban !!

The game's popularity will go down, but since its so big now internationally, I think it will not be much affected. You have to see the passion for the NBA in China - its the national sport there; not TT or badminton. One more Yao Ming and the NBA can relax !!

Soccer ??? Not much chance I feel. Of all the Americans I know, you are the only soccer fan !!! When you wrote that piece about Man U against Barcelona, I almost fell out of my chair :)

@Gils - Not much chance. Old, new, all the same. Greed is totally unrelated to experience !

@J - Wow - Tip my hat to somebody who remembers MJ from that game. Do you follow the game these days ?? Go Suns ??

Ramesh said...

@Sandhya - I agree about the market determining compensation. I don't grudge Kobe his $25 m. But surely, at that level, the marginal utility of money should go down. Going on a strike from there - I can't condone that !

J said...

Don't follow the game anymore... if at all I might begin to follow college basketball because it is big here. I was just so besotted with MJ in the those days :) I thought I would follow Kobe after MJ retired but no comparison there!

Deepa said...

I was so excited about my raise until I heard about this one! Felt like such a loser :D And guess what, they asked me if I was happy with it and I said 'yes'. I seriously need some lessons.

Anonymous said...

@Ramesh, Soccer in America, it is still a long shot, but I can see gradual progress made each year and I know without question that the disillusionment with the major 3 is driving people to soccer. What a lot of people don't realize, is that this is a HUGE soccer country, just not in the way it is elsewhere. Youth soccer is massive here, heck we coined the term 'soccer moms', so it is not inconceivable that American sports fans, so many who played soccer in their youth, could make the transition.

Preeti Shenoy said...

Applause Ramesh, Applause!
So darn well said!

Venkat.. said...

Owners want only winning players and players want only fat payers. when giver starts treating the getter ONLY in terms of money & likes to get ONLY performance in return, performer starts raising his price according to demand situation, its business. but when giver (owner or employer whomever may be in this matter) knows to treat the taker beyond money a sense of satisfaction prevails money.
(jeyacha mattum thane sir mathipu, thooththa sportsman-ku support ileyee)

zeno said...

Would have loved, if there were Youtube links to all the instances you have mentioned. [You might have it in your mind]
I also feel @Sandhya madam knows more about your blog than you ever do!
I too would agree with her on terms of the payment.

Ramesh said...

@J - Go to a Suns game. They play gung ho and Steve Nash is still a master orchestrator.

@Deepa - You got a raise ?? Yippee Yay.

@Hopfrog - Yes, its popularity in the US is well above what most of us, non Americans, think. Your women's team is mostly on top of the world. I read somewhere that some 15 million people play the sport in the US. Just proves that soccer is the one game that's truly global.

@Preeti - Coming from a basketball player, this is high praise :)

@Venkat - Very true. But the NBA salary system guarantees a fat salary during the contract period, no matter what. Whether the player plays or not. See this earlier post of mine.

Ramesh said...

@Zeno - Totally agree that Sandhya knows more and is a far better blogger - sometimes I have thought of asking her to take over this blog. You tube links follow.

zeno said...

Business blog னாலே take over ஆ?

Ramesh said...

@Zeno - Shaq's dunk here. MJ's 20 footer here. Jordan's flu game here. Derek Fisher's 0.4 seconds shot here.

Sulo - the one n only ;D said...

Hellohah........Am here... ;)

Business blog huh..? Cool - leme take some insights from here ;D

Very well said Ramesh, though I donot have a clue about this sport, I think that's a very valid point, but who thinks all these stuff these days... :(

ps.will try to be a regular :p babye...

Anonymous said...

Well said! What stands out truly in this post is your passion for the game. Every word is oozing of it. The statistics , great moments enjoyed and the frustration.
Yep, the fans suffer ultimately.
At $25M , yes, it is not fair on their part to go on strike at all. The spirit of sportsmanship is extinguished with the greed.
NBA should also start auctions and bid for these players like IPL.

Sandhya Sriram said...

Hey Ramesh,

I am very happy that you twisted zeno innocent comment and compared my writing to yours!!!!!!!!

Like the way a circus clown is happy being called a tiger, to entertain his audience.

If this has brought a smile on your face, its worth the fun. :-) :-)

Ramesh said...

@Zeno - Ha Ha

@Sulo - Honoured and delighted to see you here. This is a dry business blog and may not be to your cheery breezy taste, but would gladly welcome the touch of spontaneity and freshness you bring to other blogs that we both follow. Not to mention your own lovely blog.

@Hema - Yes, a certified sports nut. Did you ever follow the NBA during your time there ??

@Sandhya - The first time you have spouted some nonsense in this blog :)

Who else can that be??? said...


Thanks Ram... Can I call you Ram?

- You know I am lazy right, so am planning to take 'esh' out of you :D Sorry!)

You know something - 'business' is supposed to be in my blood, though not at present... i think you can help me by giving some gyan...

why business bcos - i am in the finance field, and not at all in the 'all glamorous', 'villa promising' writing field :P :D tee hee...

Anonymous said...

Yes, I used to follow it whenever possible. I used do enjoy BB matches, compared to 'football' which I almost fail to understand.
guess what, I have represented my college in some district matches. This is a closely guarded secret though, as people are amused when I say this and give me that 'you?" kind of look and start counting the inches of my height!:) and my son ends up ROFL whenever I mention this!:):)

Ramesh said...

@Sulo - Finance I thought was more glamorous than writing. I have to now be careful with sulo - she of the million dollar bonuses :)

@hema- Actually I can well picture you as a basketballer. Playing a point guard and orchestrating the game.

RamMmm said...

Isn't it the same at all strata, the more you go up, the more your needs and the more your wants? Has anyone ever said/accepted that what they have is enough? Ayn Rand's objectivism in action? :-)

Reflections said...

My eyes widened at the $25m and kept widening more and more till I reached the end of the post. Now I have this bullfrog kinda look on my face;-o

'Money corrupts' is all what my fingers can type.

Reflections said...

Ahem....I see tht Sulo has reached here;-D

Ramesh said...

@Reflections - Indeed money muddles the mind. Actually, the more you have, the more the sense of wanting more seems to come.

Yes, our darling lady has indeed blessed this blog.

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