Go Woke, Go Broke? NBA Reportedly Facing Billions in Losses, Steep Decline in Player Salaries
For obvious reasons, 2020 has been a bizarre year for sports.
The stark lack of fans at games, the various “bubble” environments to try and mitigate the spread of coronavirus, and the awkward rescheduling forcing leagues to play much later in the year than normal have all contributed to a sports year that fans won’t soon forget.
But one major aspect of 2020 professional sports that fans might want to try and forget is the deluge of “woke” social justice protests that have proliferated the major three North American professional sports leagues.
While both MLB and the NFL had their own bouts of social justice demonstrations, no sports league tapped into those protests more than the NBA.
Yes, the NBA had a dissident or two, but the league, by and large, wholly embraced the “Black Lives Matter” movement. The NBA even went so far as to have “Black Lives Matter” emblazoned on the court during the duration of its bubble restart.
Here is the NBA restart court in Orlando: the spaced out chairs are the socially distanced bench, Black Lives Matter is written on the court. pic.twitter.com/XGJu1w4QLC
— Malika Andrews (@malika_andrews) July 21, 2020
The NBA had a litany of factors working against it, but it was due in no small part to the league’s social justice initiatives that ratings utterly collapsed for its ballyhooed restart.
Those abysmal ratings couldn’t have left the NBA’s broadcast partners and sponsors happy. So what’s the best way to appease them and recoup some of the lost revenue? Get back to work as soon as possible and play as many games as you can.
Unfortunately for the league, it’s not that simple.
According to a report Friday from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the league and the National Basketball Players Association are still not able to agree on when the league will restart.
The league would like to start as early as December, while the Players Association prefers to play at a later date, the report said.
The NBA, however, fears that starting the season even in January could cost the league anywhere from $500 million to $1 billion in lost revenue, according to ESPN.
Now, a multibillion dollar entity like the NBA might normally be able to weather losses even that substantive, if only for a year.
Things get a little hairier, however, when factoring in the great unknown of when fans will be allowed back en masse. Without that vital gate revenue, ESPN noted that projections have the NBA losing another $4 billion.
That’s a potential loss of up to $5 billion in revenue if the season starts in January and fans are not allowed to attend. That massive figure, even for a multibillion dollar entity, would be a very painful and bitter pill to swallow.
The Players Association’s reluctance to start the season early is particularly confounding given the very dire consequences those revenue losses could have on the NBA players.
As ESPN pointed out, the current collective bargaining agreement includes a 50-50 revenue split between the players and the league. A massive drop in revenue would mean a steep drop in player salaries.
While some players with exorbitant salaries, such as LeBron James, John Wall and Chris Paul, would still collect a hefty chunk of change, players on rookie-scale deals or making the league minimum might not be as amenable to those depressed salaries.
So it as simple as going woke and then going broke?
Much like with anything else in life, no, it’s not that simple.
But at the very least, the NBA might want to significantly rethink its strategy of engaging in hyper-partisan politics and alienating its fans.
Based on that aforementioned $5 billion figure, the NBA clearly needs to engage as many fans as humanly possible.
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