There is a new fiction going round at ESPN [and Fox], a very unAmerican one, that the NBA owners want the players to bail them out. And that by asking the players to take a pay cut, they are “overreacting” by “pillaging” the players.
J. A. Adande writes, “It was always about people saving themselves: owners asking the players to bail them out of bad business moves…”
Bill Simmons writes, “The owners need to realize that, instead of overreacting by pillaging the players, they should be working with them while also creating a smarter business model.”
Jason Whitlock [who contributes to ESPN, but wrote this on Fox] writes, “Rather than accept and deal with their culpability for its financial mess and look within for solutions — as its conservative philosophy dictates — NBA ownership has simply proposed sticking its hands in the players’ pockets for a seven-percent/$400-million kickback/bailout.”
Jeff MacGregor of ESPN, in particular, gets very passionate about this.
Talking about the NBA bargaining, he writes:
Because between the lines of all this basketball madness is just another example of the nitwit super rich expecting their employees and/or the government and/or the general public to bail them out.
Save us from ourselves! they cry. Save us from our cartoon greed and our lurid excesses!
These credit derivatives are a win-win-win right down the line!
These credit default swaps are in no way a ticking time bomb!
This Eddy Curry contract will never blow up in my face!
Is he right to call the owners foolish for giving Eddy Curry a fat contract?
Is he right to compare the NBA owners to those who want bailouts from the govt and the general public?
Nope. They aren’t asking for bailouts at all.
Is he right in saying that expecting the employees to take a pay cut is the same thing as asking for a govt bailout? After all, it’s asking somebody else to foot the bill for your mistakes, right?
Nope. And right here is why Adande and MacGregor are sportswriters, not economists. They don’t grasp the simple distinction between taking money and giving money.
Let us consider the case of Joe Sportsfan. For the last few years he has been buying season tickets for his favorite teams. But this year, due to totally foolish business decisions on his part, he is broke. As a result, he decides not to buy season tickets anymore.
Instantly, a sportswriter writes a passionate article attacking Joe Sportsfan. Why should the local team suffer just because Joe is a fool? Is it their job to save Joe from himself? Why does Joe expect a bailout from his favorite team? If Joe was stupid enough to go broke through his own fault, why does he expect the team to bail him out? If he had any sense of decency, Joe would keep on buying season tickets, whether he can afford them or not, whether he had the money or not.
I hope everyone realizes how ridiculous such an article would sound. Joe is not taking money from anyone. He is not asking for bailouts from anyone, and he’s not getting any. He is just not giving the team money anymore. His money. Not the team’s money, not Jeff MacGregor’s money. It’s Joe’s money, to do with as he pleases. If, for any reason whatsoever, he decides not to spend it buying tickets, that is his own affair.
And guess what? The exact same thing is true of the owner of the team. By deciding not to give his money to the players this year, he is not taking money from anyone. He is not asking for bailouts from anyone. He is just not giving away money anymore. His money. Not the team’s money, not Jeff MacGregor’s money. It’s the owner’s money, to do with as he pleases. If, for any reason whatsoever, he decides not to spend it hiring basketball players, that is his own affair.
And it’s incredible gall on Jeff MacGregor’s part to presume to tell other people what to do with their money.
Guys, that’s not what America is about. It’s what Soviet Russia was about. And you know what happened to them.
Reading through articles about the NBA lockout, I get the impression that the writers think the owners and/or the players owe the fans something; that since the owners are all rich, they should be willing to lose money so the fans can watch the games; that the owners deserve our contempt for making fool decisions, but the players who make millions of dollars a year and and wisely invest it all on gambling and drinking and feeding “posses” deserve our pity; that it is sad to see noble athletes reduced to haggling like fishwives; that since sports speak to the child in us we are offended when grown up concerns intrude; that the loss of money the popcorn vendors suffer by the lockout is sufficient reason for the owners to pay the players any salary, whether they like it or not.
None of that is what America is about. America is about freedom. Meaning your money is your money, not someone elses. You have no obligation to feed popcorn vendors and athletes, nor to cater to the infantile fantasy worlds of some strangers.