After 149 days of tireless back-and-forth arguing between the NBA Player’s Union and the owners, an agreement has finally been made to end the lockout. The season will begin on December 25th, and from there a 66 game season will take place.
The reason why the lockout began was simple: since the last Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) in 2005, the league was losing more than $300 million a year, with 22 out of the 30 teams not being profitable. Looking at the NBA like any other business entity, how could things possibly remain the same if this was the case; something needed to change. The last CBA in 2005 stated that there would be a 57-43% split in Basketball Related Income (BRI) between the players and the owners, respectively. However, that deal was set to expire in 2011. In order to avoid a lockout, the two sides began to meet in early 2011 to try to resolve this issue. However, every proposal one side brought, the other quickly refuted, and countered. This led to the lockout, which began on July 1, 2011. After months of negotiations, both sides finally came to an agreement on November 26, 2011. In the new deal, both sides agreed to allocate 51.2 percent of BRI to the players, and 49.8 percent to the owners. This new deal is definitely going to help improve the situation for the owners, while the players will still receive ridiculous sums of money.
This issue can be tied into two themes we discussed in class. First, to Rawls’ concept of inequality and fairness. According to Rawls, in order for freedom and equality to exist, there must be fairness. Looking at the previous CBA, there was definitely no fairness and, therefore, no equality. Since 2005, players have been making huge sums of money while the owners have continuously been losing money. How could any business survive when one side is profitable and the other is not? The NBA, like any other business, was forced to make a change.
This case can also be applied to Rousseau’s concern over the introduction of property. One distinction people commonly bring up is the difference between professional athletics and collegiate athletics. The difference is simple: money. In college, players do not receive any salaries; they play for the love of the game. In the NBA, however, players are only concerned about the amount of money they are making. They don’t play for the sheer fun of the game anymore. As Rousseau argues, once property is introduced to society, power, self-love, and social comparison exist. He goes on to explain that property allows for the exploitation, domination, and, ultimately, corruption of human nature as a whole. This analogy fits perfectly with Rousseau’s point of view. If money (the property) was not introduced to professional sports, then perhaps the players would be playing for the love of the game like college players, and thus lockouts would be avoided. However, I know that this is not a possibility. But what are the other options? What can be done to avoid future lockouts? Finally, whose side does everyone agree with – the players or the owners?