Wednesday 07 Dec 2016

Owners and Players
Matt Seinberg

When I get a bug in my ear, or any other pest, I have to get rid of it. This week those pests are the NFL and NBA Collective Bargaining Agreements that just expired. Both leagues have locked out their players, and are in meetings to negotiate new agreements. My solution to this ridiculous mess is at the end of the column.

The average person has absolutely no sympathy for this high priced players and rich team owners crying poverty. The team owners say they lose money every season and need to cut back on salaries. Lucrative television, cable and radio contracts top off their revenue, nicely.

The players don’t believe the owners. They want more money, every year, especially if the previous one was above average. Keep in mind that most players not only get a base salary, but bonuses based on performance goals reached, lucrative endorsement deals, from many outside companies, and ridiculous amounts of money from sports memorabilia companies.

To keep things in perspective, the average American household of four people has a pre-tax income of $65,093. If you multiply that by forty-five, which could be the working career of most people, lifetime earnings amount to $2,929,185. That sounds like a lot of money, but it really isn’t.

Here are some fun facts? In the NBA, the average yearly salary is $5,356,000, plus endorsements, bonuses and other financial perquisites. The rookie base salary is $442,114, still a nice chunk of change. The NBA season is 82 games. There is always the possibility of sixteen playoff games, too. For the high earners, that’s $65,317 per game, and rookies earn $5362 per game.

The average NBA career is five years, with many players going bankrupt within five years of leaving or retiring. I’m guessing that their lavish lifestyle didn’t jive with their diminished annual income. Maybe they had poor management or no management.

The NFL is another story, with the average career being between 3.5 and four years due to the physical nature of the sport. The average salary is $1.9 million, with the median being $770,000. The season is four pre-season games, 16 regular season games, and an additional four play-off games.

The average NFL player won’t make a lot of money during his career. The star quarterback or receiver makes the most money during their careers. I'll get back to money, shortly.

Major league baseball has the longest season at 162 games, with the potential for another 21 games between the Division Series, the League Championship Series and the World Series. The average MLB salary is $3,014,572, with the minimum being $414,000. Although baseball is not the most physically demanding of the three sports, it is certainly the longest. That amount of games certainly takes its toll on players, especially pitchers who often have arm problems that threaten, shorten or end their careers. The average baseball career is 8-12 years depending on position and talent.

The average baseball player makes $18,608 per game; those earn the minimum make $2,255 per game. For those teams good enough to get to the playoffs, the World Series winner gets 35%, the World Series loser gets 24%, both League Championship Series losers get 12%; the four Division Series losers get 3%. In addition, the four second-place teams that fail to qualify for the postseason receive 1% of the pool.

Now, with the NFL and NBA locked out, is MLB far behind? Their Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBA) expired at the end of the 2011 season. I’m sure that the owners will want to impose stricter salary limits and penalize, once again, the rich teams, such as the New York “Yankees,” that continue to pay outrageous amounts of money to players. Is that going to be a revision to the luxury tax already in place?

The players, of course, want to make as much money as they can. Don’t we all want a huge salary? If I went to my boss and threatened to leave and go to a competitor in the hope of making more money, he’d wished the best of luck and shown the door. Free agency in retail does not exist.

What’s my solution to this whole CBA mess? Each league should have a base salary plus incentives for first year rookies, with a sliding scale per position after that, plus incentives. These incentives can include, but not be limited to for the NBA number of blocked shots, total points scored, number of three pointers made and number of free throws made and/or blocked.

In the NFL, incentives would be for number of blocks, tackles, sacks, interceptions, touchdowns and after points made.

For MLB, complete games pitched, number of innings pitched in relief, homeruns, stolen bases, runners thrown out and average would be included for the incentives.

If you make players work for their pay, much as salespeople make commission, everyone will earn a fair salary; poor performance earns no rewards.

Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.

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