Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The backlash against the backlash against the backlash against Malcolm Gladwell

I posted a little while back about Malcolm Gladwell's first article on Grantland. Gladwell was basically contending that the public should not sympathize with the NBA owners in the ongoing lockout negotiations. His reasoning was that NBA owners shouldnt expect to make a profit because owning an NBA team is fun. 4:17am favorite Matthew Yglesias agreed with Gladwell. I argued that lots of jobs were fun and that the important issue was that the owners were incorrect in claiming that player's salaries were interfering with their profits. Today Gladwell wrote another article on the NBA lockout. His main point is that:
At the very moment the commissioner of the NBA is holding up the New Jersey Nets as a case study of basketball's impoverishment, the former owner of the team is crowing about 10 percent returns and the new owner is boasting of "explosive" profits.
I think the argument that NBA teams are currently financially sound and that future owners have expectations of "explosive profits" is far better then the "owning a team is fun" argument. So I found it strange when Yglesias positively quoted the Gladwell article and added this:
Especially given that owning an NBA team is fun if you’re a basketball fan, there’s no particular reason to think the Nets or any other team should register operating profits at all.
I get that owning an NBA franchise is probably pretty fun, but so is playing basketball for a living. And that's what the people who the owners are negotiating against do for a living.

Every season, millions of dollars of revenue are collected through TV deals, sponsorships and ticket sales. The negotiations are about who gets to keep that money. They're not about whether the players are having fun playing or the owners are having fun owning.

The owners are wrong because the player salaries are not the cause of the financial troubles the NBA teams currently find themselves in. Not because owning a team is a good time.

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