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When Did Sports Salaries Explode, part 5

By Danny Radical

To start this next part- which will span two posts- let me apologize for the lack of citations in the first four parts. Was the analysis brief? Yes, yes it was. And I know you all don't like 1) my lack of citations and 2) brevity.


Regarding citations, I'd have well over 100 for all the parts. It would have ruined flow. If this were a book, they'd make up the last chapter. But a blog? Check my internet history for proof, or reference Google. And regarding depth, there was a lot of redundancy based on the 1990's, so I figured that I'd go into things at the end instead of writing the same stuff three times.


With that, here comes the unique analysis you've all come to expect.

To start with, why did baseball begin the money era before most sports?

Lots of games. You'd think westward expansion would have something to do with it, but the Los Angeles Rams and the San Francisco 49'ers (and even the Los Angeles Dons) predate the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants arrival to California. However, football back then was not quite the star caliber league that baseball was. There was no real football Babe Ruth (Jim Thorpe? Pfft) to capture imaginations. There was no Willie, Mickey and the Duke. Is there even a disease named after a football player?

So the arrival of baseball on the West Coast and the subsequent spreading to all places in between, as well as the popularity of the World Series, and the fact that Americans in the 20's through the 70's actually wanted hours of entertainment for their hard earned dollar gave baseball a solid financial leg up on other sports, so much so that they still lack a true salary cap unlike every other major North American sport.

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They left out the 'G'

Folks, in the 1940's, no one was watching all girl football, basketball, or hockey leagues. But people paid to see Madonna and Rosie McDonnell and Gina Davis. I know, I saw the movie. Tom Hanks was a great manager.

Next, why are owners depressing salaries in football? Is this collusion?

The NFL has been the most lucrative televised league in sports for just about 20 years. How is the formula for salary cap divided by player coming out to about $2 million per player a year? If I were in the football union, I would be asking a lot of questions. I'd start by using the Green Bay Packers profitability. As a market with 120,000 people, they are in the top half of profitable teams in the league. As a player I'd wonder "How is a small town making more money than Los Angeles or Atlanta? How screwed am I getting?"

https://shareholder.broadridge.com/pdf/gbp/green-bay-packers-2017-annual-report.pdf

Come on guys, the NFL got $5 billion in TV revenue for the 2016-17 season. Just on TV revenue alone that's $2.6 million per player, a 30% increase on the NFL average salary. That's without gate, yo. And yes, owners need their cut, but that's an AWFUL BIG cut.

We all know that sports teams cook books. It's a practice that's as old as books itself.. It's why a team "losing money" sells for 4 times the asking price. Its the same as: "I have $10,000 in my 401k. I shall withdraw $40,000." Or "The Blue Book on my used car is $1000. You can have it for $6000." Lies, folks.

So in looking at salaries, football players need a raise. That should be the cornerstone of their next collective bargaining agreement.

Next: Why did the NBA come late to the game?

Basketball teams for a long time were unstable. The Los Angeles Lakers? Is there a for real lake in Los Angeles, or did that team come from somewhere with lakes? Hint: Great Lakes were involved. The Utah Jazz? There's Jazz in Utah? No. But New Orleans...maybe. The Buffalo Braves were an NBA team until they became the Los Angeles Clippers. Makes sense, as Los Angeles is known for clipper ships. The Sacramento Kings? Probably belong with the Royals in Kansas City.

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They found the 2 prettiest girls in Buffalo.

What stabilized the NBA were Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, and to a lesser extent, players staying in college until they were men, not boys. Think that's crazy? Anyone that's older than 22 knows that the best basketball is played by the best athletes playing great games; not a league making special rules to handicap better physical players while churning out and overhyping young players to be marquee names.

If anyone thinks that the 1992 Dream Team, which included a guy with HIV and a guy with a broken back, would lose to the most recent Olympic team, well, they'd be right. Those guys from 1992 are all 25 years older. But if those teams could match up ala Rocky 6? 1992 wins 11 games out of 10. When basketball started letting immature, uneducated boys dictate the flow of the league, the quality of the product became watered down, and while the popularity of NBA basketball is undeniable, it's a league full of players that woke up on 3rd and thought they hit the triple.

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Also, thanks to the hyping of those young stars in the league, guys that are 25 want to make $30 million a season. Teams want to keep star players to try to build the 3-4 all star caliber player team needed to win titles. So they pay that money, and we're starting to see how that will impact the league. My prediction? There will be less gigantic contracts in this upcoming off season. Players who were making $15 million for average stats two years ago will see those same stats making $10 million or less this upcoming offseason. Because teams want to avoid that luxury tax issue, and if yiu're not just one player away from a title, why incur financial penalties to make a bench player an extra few million? Owners would be crazy to do such.

Why was the NHL last to the game?

Canada. This is no offense to Canada. It's a beauty of a nation, its soldiers are tougher than leather, everyone owns a gun. No one pays for doctor bills, and it calls ham bacon, and bacon bacon.

Greatest Sports Video Game Ever?

But the Loonie historically has been worth less than a dollar. So a hockey millionaire in Canada was always worth less than a baseball one in the USA. So as long as you have a sport that was led by Canadian franchises- think about the original 6 in hockey, where 33% of the league was in Canada, or today where 20% of teams play in Canada- then 33% of original league revenue lags, which is currently 20%, which means overall historical money lags. Gary Bettman realized this and immediately started moving teams out of Canada's less "profitable" markets, despite how passionate the fans were. And of course, he moved teams in less profitable markets to places in Canada that will back a house.

Canada owes a debt of gratitude to Atlanta specifically for giving them the Flames (Calgary), the Thrashers (Winnipeg), and the Knights (Montreal).

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Thanks, Atlanta!

So yes, Winnipeg and Ottawa got teams back, but Edmonton almost left, Calgary is threatening leaving, and Ottawa has flat out said we're good to go. Seattle, Houston and Hartford want teams. Two of those are viable spots. And inside of Canada? Quebec and Hamilton are also viable spots.

That said, today 50% of the original 6 are the 3 most valuable sports franchises in the league, but that barely helps Arizona, nor does it explain why Portland, Oregon lacks an NHL team. Untapped city, Gary!

Also, most of Canada is cold. Lots of the United States aren't. Austin Matthews, Matt Donovan and many others are trying to fix that mid and southwest stigma. Give it another generation.

These can't be all of the reasons that sports is money, right? Is something missing?

Absolutely. You'll have to check in to our last part to find out what, but hands down, its the craziest part of all!