On March 11, 2011, the National Football League lockout officially began. Sports fans everywhere were worried if there would be a NFL season this year. After all, football is ‘America’s game,’ and what would a year be like without the Super Bowl? Obviously, these fears never came to pass, as the 92nd season of the NFL has started off with a bang.
Now there is a new fear growing in the hearts of sports fans. It has been more than two months since the start of the National Basketball Association lockout (for comparison, the NFL lockout lasted four months and fourteen days), and it does not seem like a compromise between the players and the owners is getting any closer. But before getting into the details of the lockout and what it means to the NBA, let’s take a step back.
What is a lockout anyway? I’ll be honest – I had to look it up myself back in March when the NFL lockout started. After all, from 2000 until now, there had only been one, and that happened to the National Hockey League in 2004. A lockout is when employers refuse to let their employees work. In the case of the NBA, that would be the team owners refusing to let the players play. Why are they doing this? Well, that would be because the two sides couldn’t agree over a new contract and the main issue between the two, of course, is money.
The owners want to reduce or freeze salary caps, with many claiming that they have been losing millions of dollars each year since the last contract was reached between the two sides in 2005. Currently, the NBA has a soft cap, which means while there is a cap to how much a team is allowed to pay their players, there are exceptions that allow teams to sign players and surpass the cap. Owners want a hard cap, which will lower player salaries and promote competitiveness. Teams won’t be able to sign as many star players who command multi-million dollar contracts and ultimately make the teams and owners more money.
Obviously, players are opposed to losing money. There was an offer made to cut salaries by about $500 million over five years, but it was not enough. It will definitely take quite a bit of bargaining for the two sides to make a deal and like the NFL lockout before it, many are worried that the negotiations could lead to a reduced season or no season at all.
I believe, however, that an agreement will be reached. There will be a season. I can’t say if it will be a shortened season or not, but I do think there will be one. The NBA is growing in popularity, especially worldwide as more and more people are again beginning to watch the games. For example, game 6 of the 2011 finals drew in more than 23 million viewers. If there is a lockout, the NBA will most likely lose this momentum. The lockout will also hurt basketball internationally, as foreign basketball federations will have to pay for NBA player’s insurance if they play overseas, which can and will cost quite a bit. The biggest overseas event this will effect? The 2012 Summer Olympics.
The NBA has more to lose than just money from missing a season, which is why they will reach a deal in the end.