Professional Sports Debate

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To get dialogue and discussion going among our Intro to Sports Admin students, this past week they had to write an original post on one of four topics in pro sports. Next they had to find someone with an opposing opinion to them and comment with their thoughts.

Here are a couple of original posts from our students arguing their point:

Salary Caps are NOT necessary in Professional Sports

By: Nicole Blaszczyk

Salary caps have been a controversial and highly debated component in professional sports for a long time. The salary cap concept has developed over the years and has the ultimate goal of giving smaller market teams the opportunity to compete against larger market teams. However, I am inclined to agree with the statement that salary caps are unnecessary. Over the past several years, salary cap regulations have become wildly complex, allowing club owners to subdue the wages of their athletes.

Since their inception, salary cap regulations have resulted in lockouts and strikes by players in the NFL, NHL and NBA. Of these four major professional sports leagues, I feel the MLB has developed the best model for salary regulation. Their formula provides uniformity among the players by enforcing a Competitive Balance Tax or luxury tax rather than a salary cap. The Competitive Balance Tax can be found in the MLB Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). First created in 1968, the CBA was created between the players association and the 30 major league clubs and holds the interest of both parties involved. The agreement outlines not only luxury tax, but minimum salaries, profit sharing, lengths of season, scheduling, eligibility and injuries. The agreement has evolved over the years, but always ensures the continuity of rights for both the players and the league. The current CBA expires in December of 2016 and is likely to renew without much debate.

The Competitive Balance Tax charges a substantial amount of money to teams with higher payrolls. The tax a club is required to pay is calculated by taking the dollar amount of the actual club payroll that exceeds the tax threshold for that contract year. In other words, Competitive Balance Tax is the difference between its final club payroll total and the tax threshold.  In the 2016 contract year, the tax threshold is $189 Million. If a team exceeds that amount, then they are required to pay a specific tax. From these tax dollars, 50% is used to fund the player benefits, 25% is used to fund baseball programs in developing countries and 25% is added to the Industry Growth Fund. Created in 1997 and managed by a board of directors, the Industry Growth Fund (IGF) is intended to enhance fan interest, increase baseball’s popularity, and ensure industry growth from year to year.

As I mentioned earlier, the intent of salary caps are to ensure fairness amongst teams and safeguard competitive success. With no salary cap, many could argue that teams could create a monopoly by employing all of the top players in the game. However, ESPN noted that nine different teams over the past 11 years have won the World Series. This has resulted in MLB’s growth in their bottom line and in the overall level of competition. Higher payrolls do not always result in a more successful team, just ask the New York Yankees.

Overall, I feel that adopting the Competitive Balance Tax, similar to the MLB, rather than enforcing a salary cap, would be and could be more beneficial. The outcome could yield a greater long term success while also supporting secondary initiatives of the leagues.

Fantasy Leagues Are Bad For Pro Sports

By: Bradley Wilson

As a coach I have never been involved in any of the numerous fantasy leagues that are out there today. Therefore, I have never benefitted from the monetary rewards that can come out of these leagues. Being on the opposite side of the fans’ view on this topic, I believe that there is nothing positive that comes out of these leagues. It creates a selfish, all about me attitude amongst many players that are only concerned with their value to their fantasy teams. As Dave Zirin states in his article, “The fantasy that’s ruining football”, some coaches are even viewed as “fantasy killers.” He gives the example of Mike Shanahan when he was the head coach of the Denver Broncos. Shanahan’s offensive system calls for a stable of running backs that can amass a large amount of carries between all of them. This helps to keep running backs fresh and can wear a defense down. Mike Shanahan is concerned with winning football games, not worrying about what types of carries and yards that each running is gaining throughout the course of a football game. I believe that the rise in these leagues have led to “fans” being fans for the wrong reasons. Many fans don’t care as much about the wins and losses of teams throughout the NFL, but more so whether or not their fantasy players have put up numbers that will allow them to win a pot of money. This goes along with the overall rise and promotion of selfishness in our society today.

Nate Scott points out in his article “Fantasy football is infuriating (and amazing)” that fantasy football players consist of 90% of the fantasy sports industry, which tells us that this is a very large number and not something that is going away any time soon. However, I believe that it still isn’t good in the big picture of the true fan of the game of football. I do not believe that these fantasy football leagues allow fans to appreciate the game for what it is; the ability of teams to pull together and accomplish a common goal. This is not for individual agendas, which is exactly what fantasy football promotes. I know that others will argue that it adds a different dimension and level of interest to the game of football, but I just don’t see it that way.

I have many friends that participate in these leagues, and at times will even cheer against their “favorite” team if it will help their fantasy standings. For example, if their favorite team is playing the Baltimore Ravens, and they have the Ravens defense that week for their league, they want to Ravens to have success against the team they would normally cheer to victory. I have also seen people content with their team losing as long as their starting quarterback threw a couple touchdowns, or the running amassed over 100 yards and had a couple touchdowns. This is bad for the game of football and will continue to create issues in and out of locker rooms as long as it continues.

Women’s Pro Sports ARE Sustainable

By: Amanda Conway

Women athletes are very talented and are enjoyable to watch in person or over the Television. With that being said, Women’s Pro-Sports could be very sustainable with the right investors. Besides for the Women Olympic Sports, Women Pro-Sports barely exist currently. This goes for all women sports, except for the Women’s National Basketball Association, National Women’s Soccer League, and the newly funded Women’s National Professional Hockey League. If women are going to be given an equal opportunity to play in a Professionalized Sport like the men do already, very wealthy investors including the investors they already have, are going to have to step up to the plate and invest in it.

So far Women’s Professional Basketball has been the most sustainable professional sport for women. It has existed since 1997. However, there is plenty of room for growth in this professionalized sport. There are currently only 12 Professional Women Basketball Teams as compared to the 30 Men’s Professional Basketball Teams. Lisa Leslie, a former Pro Basketball Player states, “I think we have a lot to show with the way we play,””…how hard we play, how competitive we are, just to show that there is another avenue for girls, another outlet for girls.” Is this not how it is for Men’s Pro Basketball as well? Women show the same heart and determination as the Men in this sport. So why do the men get more coverage and sponsorship? If the women could get more coverage and sponsorship, the fans would come around and recognize Women’s Professionalized Basketball as a real source of entertainment.

Like in the WNBA, the Women’s Professional Soccer League is also full of talent. However, they have few viewers, few people in the stands, and very little praise for their success compared to the men in this sport. This could be because of a lack of sponsorship and coverage. However, if there is so much talent among these women soccer players, why do they struggle to get recognized? The Men’s Professional Soccer teams are full of talent as well and get much more coverage and in return have many more viewers. This is why sponsors need to take risks and give women a real chance to gain fans and viewers to fill up those stands and to view them on national television. Without the media coverage and financial support to make it happen, many people won’t even know to watch for the Women’s Professionalized Soccer League. If the investors are worried about losing money, they need to look into the past. Back in 1999, when the women won the world cup match, people almost saw this as the launching pad. This proves that women can bring excitement to the game of soccer and deserve a fair chance as the men do to prove it through professionalized sports.

Therefore, investors need to see the potential in Women’s Professionalized Sports and take the risk. Big Businesses take risks to be successful, and Women Sports is a great place to take a risk on. Many young girls especially who love to play sports would look up to these women as role models and would inspire to be like them if they had the right opportunities to see them play. In order for this to happen, sponsors and/or investors need to step up to the plate to help show the world how talented women really are.

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