Top Leaderboard, Site wide
Truthdig: Drilling Beneath the Headlines
June 24, 2017 Disclaimer: Please read.

Statements and opinions expressed in articles are those of the authors, not Truthdig. Truthdig takes no responsibility for such statements or opinions.

What’s Next for the Bill Cosby Sex-Assault Case?

Truthdig Bazaar
America and the Islamic Bomb: The Deadly Compromise

America and the Islamic Bomb: The Deadly Compromise

By David Armstrong and Joseph J. Trento

more items

Email this item Print this item

We Can Live Without Leagues

Posted on Jul 17, 2011
AP / Mary Altaffer

NBA Commissioner David Stern, right, and Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver speak to reporters.

By Mark Heisler

(Page 2)

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.


Square, Site wide, Desktop


Square, Site wide, Mobile
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.

Banner, End of Story, Desktop
Banner, End of Story, Mobile
1   2

Watch a selection of Wibbitz videos based on Truthdig stories:

Get a book from one of our contributors in the Truthdig Bazaar.

Related Entries

Get truth delivered to
your inbox every day.

New and Improved Comments

If you have trouble leaving a comment, review this help page. Still having problems? Let us know. If you find yourself moderated, take a moment to review our comment policy.

Join the conversation

Load Comments

By radson, July 20, 2011 at 8:02 pm Link to this comment

Billy Pilgrim thats one hell of a funny post and it reminds me of a dear family member that would definately relate to what you wrote .hahahahah


Report this

By Inherit The Wind, July 19, 2011 at 3:10 pm Link to this comment

“Sports” is entertainment. Nothing more. Why does TruthDig care?

Report this

By Ben Staples, July 19, 2011 at 2:15 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Fahgeddabout all these leagues.  Enjoy tennis championships (but beware, NBC works hard to ruin the broadcating).  Enjoy Le Tour de France.

Report this

By wbelote, July 18, 2011 at 1:41 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Here is a proposal for pro sports that’s not on the table but maybe should be.  Take some large percentage of the money generated and do something for society besides make United Way commercials. 

Players should get a very good salary, (by normal standards), pension and health care for life.  Owners get operating expenses and some pocket money, (it’s a hobby for most of them).

The communities get some desperately needed revenue.  Hell, you could drastically lower ticket prices and let average guys have a chance to be at the games.

The essence of sports is a beautiful thing.  Let’s give it a more meaningful role than mere entertainment.

Report this
CJ's avatar

By CJ, July 18, 2011 at 6:26 am Link to this comment

I’ve found a whole new sport over the last four years that I’d like to recommend to Heisler: cycling. Less money, less R&R piped all along the route like in stadiums and arenas, less military presence, no singing of nationalist anthems, no charge to stand roadside and watch, and if available on TV like the Tour de France everyday every stage on Versus, a travelogue to boot, if/when watching pedaling gets a little dull. And one seldom, if ever, hears of contract disputes, let alone of greedy team owners vs. greedy team riders. (Not that pro riders don’t make a damn fine living. But nothing like Lebron James or Tom Brady or Sidney Crosby or Albert Puljos.)

There are higher-paid riders who do switch teams often enough, while many teams have trouble finding any sponsors at all. One U.S. team, HTC Highroad, is currently trying to find a new sponsor, and the team is one top-notch pro cycling team, currently cleaning up at the Tour this year with Mark Cavendish. While a French team (Europcar, a relatively low-cost one) is in the yellow jersey currently. And now that Lance is long gone and so the Tour less predictable…

The so-called doping scandal is pure hypocrisy, especially in the presence of our four major sports, where doping is just as common, probably more so. Drug testing in the four major sports is less common than in cycling. (But yes, as Armstrong apparently proved—per Tyler Hamilton—it’s not that hard to cheat on the testing.)

Cycling is my sports cure, having had just about enough of the NBA, the NFL and sometimes even the NHL, albeit the NHL is a lot better than the first two, while I never got the point of baseball at all, George Carlin, notwithstanding. The Stanley Cup playoffs were very good this year, though still playing June? (Lousy Canucks!)

Heisler’s right about ongoing disputes, the NFL’s something of a joke, the NBA’s more serious. That is, if the term, “serious,” can be applied to overpaid activities involving playing with balls of various sizes and shapes. Or with bicycles, except that there’s not nearly the money there…yet.

Television happened to the four major sports, and to college football. The NHL is the best of the four because still not too influenced by television, while no one watches cycling, thankfully. I’m now sorry I mentioned it. Please don’t watch, even if it is—secretly—the best, far and away most competitive test of the body, and mind too, in terms of sports anyway, on the planet. Having said that, I can’t watch the Vuelta (Tour of Spain) coming up in August pending DirecTV (the worst company on the planet) getting Universal Sports, another Comcast-NBC property. Never got to see much of Spain in person and so would like to see a travelogue, which would beat the hell out of traipsing through traffic to Staples arena or to the thankfully still more or less intact Art Deco LA Coliseum to see SC play some Pac 10 or Notre Dame patsy.

Then there’s the matter of us paying for new, and ever more trashy, stadiums and arenas for rich chumps (team owners and otherwise) and cheats (players and officials), anyone but true sports fans.

Screw ‘em, I’m enjoying July at the Tour and might watch, all the way through, one or two Denver Broncos (or Boise State Broncos) games if any show up on TV this fall. That’s about all, since really better things to do in life. Okay, maybe another Super Dud in February, so long as Tom Petty or the Stones and not Black-Eyed Peas or that kid, Justin somebody with the topless girl.

Whatever deals they make, a serious surtax on all their concussed heads. I’m not on owners or players side, only on the side of fans, even the car-burning ones. If only they could stick to burning just the cars of owners and players…

Report this
kerryrose's avatar

By kerryrose, July 18, 2011 at 4:58 am Link to this comment

Baseball is beautiful.  The game is magic and fans and children are drawn into it’s magic allure.  It portrays of life of immediate success and failures, of highs and lows.  It portrays in-the-present existence that so many of us do not have.

As a boy, what is more magical than dreaming of a life testing your skills, ecstasy and agony in the space of a couple of hours?  It sure beats dreaming of a life in a cubicle or investigating insurance fraud.

Our dreams and love of baseball are the best of us, and the purest dreams for boys.  If Capitalism has cashed in, then it is not surprising.  I would bet, though, that the boys who play in sandlots all summer, and even the pros, would do it for a liveable wage.

Report this

By surfnow, July 18, 2011 at 4:35 am Link to this comment

Like reality TV Stars, Hip-Hop moguls and Hollywood, pro athletes are overpaid, spoiled and basically useless. This while public school teachers are losing their jobs in droves. The NFL strike personifies our culture’s complete lack of real values.

Report this
Billy Pilgrim's avatar

By Billy Pilgrim, July 17, 2011 at 6:25 pm Link to this comment

I’ve been a sports junkie all my life but I don’t
give a shit about these “labor” issues between
millionaires and billionaires. How ironic is it that
professional athlete’s have successful unions while
the average working stiff does not? For me, sports
exist to keep me from going insane. The games I watch
on my big screen, HD television act as an electronic
anti-depressant, enabling me to, if just for a few
hours, escape from the harsh reality of trying to
survive in 21st century America. Watching sports is
much healthier for what remains of my mind than
listening to the Republicans in Congress and our out
of touch President throw bullshit at each other and
then having to endure some smart ass political
“pundit” regurgitate his opinion on what it all

Report this
Right Top, Site wide - Care2
Right Skyscraper, Site Wide
Right Internal Skyscraper, Site wide