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We Can Live Without Leagues
Posted on Jul 17, 2011
By Mark Heisler
Despite Stern’s claims of $340 million in annual losses, the NBA never stopped making money on an operating basis (see: Nate Silver debunking Stern on his New York Times blog), with the league’s fortunes on the rise and huge new regional TV deals coming on line (see: the Lakers’ $3 billion, 20-year deal with Time-Warner).
In the meantime, as the leagues work out their issues, why are we supposed to care again?
It’s their business. Let them worry about it.
They were richer than we were when this started and they’ll be richer than we are when it’s over.
Both sides play to us as if our opinion counts, but it doesn’t.
It’s not a debate or a plebiscite. It’s collective bargaining, which means the parties settle it all by themselves.
Public opinion means nothing, which is good for players, who were living out fans’ dreams before joining the labor movement.
Fans were down on baseball players for decades, even as owners kept trying to break their union ... and wound up turning it into a superb fighting force that now has its boot on the owners’ necks.
If the NBA cancels games, or its season, life won’t come to an end. The NBA won’t even come to an end.
Forget that stuff about “the fans won’t be back.”
Fans have been abandoned often enough to amass an admirable track record of coming back, even if not all of them on day one.
Baseball blew off a World Series in 1994, and was stronger than ever within years, even if people were shocked to learn what drugs made it so strong.
(Baseball has had labor peace since 1994 because the owners are now scared to propose anything the union doesn’t like ... like testing for steroids, until it was too late.)
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and his owners shut down their 2004-05 season for the best of reasons: They couldn’t go on the way they were.
They’re back on better footing, having found their niche audience waiting, just where they left it.
So it’s really the summer of their discontent.
We have lives, thank you, or at least TiVo.
Mark Heisler is a superstar NBA columnist for the Los Angeles Times who, from time to time, shares his wisdom and gets deep with Truthdig readers looking to dig into the substance of sports.
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