15 Sports Myths and Why They're Wrong

By Rodney Fort; Jason Winfree | Go to book overview

11 FAILURE TO ACT ON THE
ISSUE OF COMPETITIVE
BALANCE IS HURTING SOME
SPORTS LEAGUES

INTRODUCTION

For some leagues, such as MLB and the NBA, many argue that smallerrevenue market teams have no chance of winning in today’s environment. For now, we leave this idea under the general name of “parity” or “competitive balance,” although further definition will be absolutely essential to the discussion. From Mike Bianchi (2011) at the Orlando Sentinel:

The NBA may like the short—term buzz it is getting from superstar players
moving to major markets, but it will reach a point long—term where fans
in the smaller markets will abandon their teams, stop buying tickets, quit
watching the NBA and find something more productive to do with their
time and money.

This, some claim, is in stark contrast to the glory days when (at least) hope sprang eternal in the heart of all fans that their team had a chance at postseason play. To these nostalgia buffs, it seemed that outcomes were less dependent on the disparate economic conditions of owners or cities. Without league intervention, these pundits see a lack of parity leading to financial ruin in the long run.

In still other leagues, the argument is just the opposite, such as the NFL and NHL. Parity has run amok, and it ends up to be pretty much a coin toss as to which teams will make the playoffs. From Troy Aikman (Pedulla, 2003):

There is no question the level of play has decreased. Now, do games be-
come more exciting? Are teams more evenly matched? No question. Is that

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