It’s your fault, you powerless bastard

General sports fans seem to believe that a) Players are mostly to blame for this lockout and b) Owners will get the better end of a deal. I’ll table the racial dimension of this conversation for a different day–I have a rule about publishing on race after the 2 AM sleep deprivation threshold.

It is difficult to look at these numbers and conclude anything other than: “Fans think owners deserve more money than players do.” That would be an odd sentiment, considering owners already have more money, and “owning” is not an action–you only need to hold the deed.

An owner can forget about his team’s existence for ten years and still sell it for a profit. As a Warriors fan, I cite the non-experience that was Chris Cohan ownership. He may well have lived in a bunker that existed in a black hole’s vacuum. Petty lawsuits were the only evidence that Cohan kept breathing air, but for all I know, he filed those from Marianna’s Trench by the grace of gills and a waterproof typewriter. The Owning Thing eventually sold GSW for 450 million. When owners like Mark Cuban immerse themselves in team operations, it is an active choice and not an obligation.

So, how do fans come to favor passive deedholders whom they believe will get the “better end” of a lockout? To explain, I cite Dennis Rodman: “I think the players should bow down. It’s not the players’ fault, it’s the owners’ fault and I think (the players) should give a little bit, and that way, things will move on.”

Rodman did not “blame” the players, but he voiced how many want this to wrap up.

Give in. Things will move on. Bow down.

There is a fatalism to our view of these negotiations, an assumption that billionaires will win because they have all the money, all the leverage. Once the writer/fan accepts that players must lose, that this the only way “things will move on,” we start demanding that athletes take the punch sooner. Players exist in the paradigm of “concede,” so the lockout becomes “their fault” when concessions are withheld.

What’s the hold up? You’ll lose anyway. Bow down. Give in.

Can’t say I love the fatalistic tenor. If NHL, NFL and NBA owners keep extracting concessions from athletes, it could prompt a bigger question: Why is the game so rigged? Have the super rich gotten so super rich that they can merely choose how long and how hard to squeeze millionaires? It smacks of that hilarious Onion headline, “Widening Gap Between Rich and Super-Rich Threatening American Dream.”

I quoted Charles Barkley’s “The only thing that hasn’t gone down (in the recession) are players’ salaries,” because it’s an oft-echoed statement. What strikes me about the quote is what Barkley elided from his economic assessment: The guys who write the checks saw their salaries blast off.

Current lockout lightening rod Kevin Garnett was blamed for the last work stoppage in 1999. The kid had just netted a 126 million dollar salary, sending owners into a tizzy. Since that point, max salaries have stayed below the KG-level. But there is no salary cap on what the super rich can garner, and there never will be. If a money gap is what allows these owners to squeeze so fiercely, then expect an iron-fisted future.


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