Salary Caps – Fair or Unnecessary?

Students were asked whether or not they think that salary caps are fair and whether or not they are good or bad for professional sports.  They were asked to take a position of Yes – salary caps are important in professional sports in the United States or No – they are unnecessary.  Here is one viewpoint from Ryann Stocker

By: Ryann Stocker

Generally speaking, I believe that salary caps are a fair practice and something that is a good thing for professional sports leagues to implement.  Although the forms of the kind of salary caps that they have adopted differ, three of the big four of the major professional sports leagues do have some sort of salary cap. (The MLB being the only exception.)  “The result, according to some critics of the sport, is a league in which only big market teams in cities like New York and Los Angeles can afford to buy the best free agents, leaving scraps for the smaller markets. In 2014, the Los Angeles Dodgers led MLB by spending more than $235 million on players — more than five time as much as the Houston Astros spent.” I do believe some leagues should alter their cap.  The National Basketball Association has a cap but allows for teams to technically still spend above that cap.  For the most part though, I think that salary caps do what they are made to do and that is to create a healthy balance and equal opportunities for all teams within that league.

Salary caps produce parity for the leagues and help small market teams in terms of gaining a more even playing field even though they may not have anywhere close to the money to spend that some of their opponents do.  A cap also helps those small market teams bring in more revenue and to stay afloat as a franchise.  Parity is imperative in any sports league.  To demonstrate how important parity really is, one has to look no further than the example of the English Premier League.  “A lack of spending restrictions has led to incredible disparity between payrolls. The wealthiest clubs buy up the best players and dominate; only four teams (Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, and Arsenal) have won the league since 1995. (Those four teams also largely dominate the 2nd- and 3rd-place finishes.)”  This lack of inequality isn’t just keeping the less fortunate squads at the bottom half of the standings year in and year out, it also forcing teams to fold out of the league completely.  “With this extreme inequality, the EPL reportedly took in over 5 billion  in revenue last year — half that of the NFL — with much of that revenue concentrated among the top 4-5 teams while mid- and smaller-tier clubs languished.”  It is also worth noting that ”In [the] largely restriction-free English soccer, there is a vast graveyard of defunct clubs, many of which spent themselves into oblivion.”

I realize that many opponents of the salary cap would point to the example that some leagues still lack parity even with a cap.  Take the NBA for example who have had only seven different champions since the turn of the century.  This might suggest that the cap there is not doing what it set out to do but I would argue that a salary cap does not make the key financial decisions on who to sign, who to keep, who to trade for and so forth.  A salary cap allows a lesser marketed team to make great franchise decisions without being limited by their opponents larger pocketbooks taking over all of the free agents from them but it does not somehow make them have a great brain trust up top.  It could be said that those seven different championship squads have had the best off seasons year in and year out.  The cap allows every team to have a chance.  Sometimes, those chances are blown.  That is the nature of any sport.


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