Fans Getting Locked out of Professional Sports

By Bianchi, Mike | The Florida Times Union, July 29, 1998 | Go to article overview

Fans Getting Locked out of Professional Sports


Bianchi, Mike, The Florida Times Union


A friend of mine asked my opinion the other day on the NBA

lockout, and, without even thinking, the words just popped out:

"I don't care."

Really, I don't.

Why should I?

Why should you?

This is where the NBA and Major League Baseball and all

professional sports leagues consistently err: They get so

wrapped up in counting their money, they actually start

believing they matter in some substantial way. They don't

realize that they are just an accessory to life, not an

essential.

What would an NBA lockout mean to me? Absolutely nothing. It

would mean I might watch a little more golf on Sunday. Or rent

more movies. Or, more likely, I would just go fishing.

Seriously, I don't care how or when the NBA settles its labor

impasse. Tell me when you go back to work, fellas. Until then,

don't bore me with your dispute over how to divide the $2

billion a year fans spend on your games.

Is it just me or is there a definite underlying sense of

cynicism, even disgust about the arrogance in professional

sports? Hasn't the absurdity reached bizarre heights when NBA

owners are actually asking players to help them restrain their

own spending by agreeing to rules that limit the money owners

can allocate for player salaries? Are pro sports, as U.S. News &

World Report magazine claimed in a recent cover story, headed

for "Big League Trouble?"

It sure seems that way. The billion-dollar TV contracts and the

still mostly full stadiums not withstanding, there are certainly

strong indications that Americans are getting turned off and

tapped out by pro sports.

Last year alone, the American public spent more than $100

billion on the sports industry. And over the last eight years,

municipalities have financed more than 75 percent of the $12

billion worth of new sports arenas.

And what do we get for our tax dollars? According to the U.S.

News report, the average ticket prices for the four major pro

sports -- the NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball and the NHL --

have increased by nearly three times the rate of inflation for

all consumer goods and services during the decade. …

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