For The Love Of Counting Other People’s Money: The Curious Case of Free Agency and NBA FANS

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Author’s Note: First thing’s first, let me throw out this disclaimer by stating that the term “fan” I used often in this piece does not specifically mean YOU. However, if YOU are bothered by what you read below, I’m probably referring to YOU. If I am referring to YOU, I hope that you will read this piece with an open mind.





Imagine working at a factory for eight years and not having a thing to show for it but hollow praise, callouses, and lies. Your business acumen, leadership skills and education rival that of your bosses’ but you are wasting away your potential on the assembly line. Imagine those bosses undermining you and stealing some of your ideas for their own to pad their accomplishments. After being passed over for a promotion for the 12th time, you move on to another company and blow up. You’re thriving in your new position as an exec only for your former co-workers and neighbors to turn on you-calling you a sellout, weak and ‘brand new’ because you wanted a better opportunity and a fatter paycheck for you and your family.

How about picturing yourself getting a huge raise and promotion by your company out of appreciation for your hard work and for changing the company’s culture for the better only for outsiders to call you greedy for agreeing to your raise, cursing you under their breath when you treat yourself and wonder why do you feel like you ‘have to have all of that money’, and that you don’t deserve it.

Now, imagine yourself as some of your ex-coworkers, jealous outsiders and crab neighbors criticizing the salaries and the decisions of others.

When the news dropped about a huge trade or payday in the NBA, some fans take to social media to criticize the player or the team like a jealous and nosy neighbor, or a frustrated co-worker when they say, “he’s not worth $123 million!” or “why does he want to leave the great situation that he has with the team that he was on?”

I have always been intrigued by psychological studies on sports fans. I would love to see a study done on the psychological effect of how much money players make and where they chose to earn a living for their families has on the lives of sports fanatics. Honestly, I find the hypocrisy of some of these fans spellbinding. I’m pretty sure if the fans who are constantly criticizing the DECISIONS and the salaries (The word decision will never be the same, Thanks LeBron) that players make were in turn the ones who are bing criticized for their own life decisions, they wouldn’t have no problems telling people to kiss the deepest and darkest crevices of their asses after knocking them in the middle of the next decade. So why do they hate on the players for their salaries?

To me, it’s all about entitlement and resentment. It seems that the fans are tight about the salaries because they view sports as not as important as their ‘real’ jobs and they shouldn’t be making all that money for a ‘child’s game.’ They are resentful of the players for knowing their worth or value to a team and not being afraid to negotiate. It’s like we as a society have been conditioned to fight for crumbs and hate seeing others eat.

It’s wild that fans seem to take the side of management over the player in negotiations. On the surface, fans see management as being one with the team instead of a typical employer/employee dynamic. On a deeper level, it could be said that fans side with the owners and management because again, they think that the players are already overpaid as it is and they shouldn’t have the influence that they do and they are no different than the fans themselves when it comes to dealing with upper management. Well if you were the “LeBron James” of your job, I’m pretty sure you would have a little bit more influence on the decisions of your bosses. Instead of being angry at the influence that superstars have on their organization, follow the examples of  Draymond Green and Tristan Thompson and just be a STAR in your ROLE. If you do that, maybe you’ll have a little less anger in your soul. To get even deeper, the fans side with the owners because they aspire to one day be a boss, so they TRY to think like one.

Entitlement comes into play because often, fans believe that the players only exist for their entertainment. You see it on twitter when fans tell a player about the ‘money needed in Africa’ or the ‘Veterans’ and how the player should donate to those causes instead of splurging on a Porsche. You see the sense of entitlement on Instagram when some woman is telling a player to chill with vacay pics because he’s ‘not being sensitive to hardworking middle class people’ You see it when fans burn jerseys and team specific blogs shade the ‘offending’ player on the way out.

It’s shameful because the visibility and the lifestyles distract many folks from the fact that these athletes are ordinary men and women who EARNED the extraordinary circumstances that they’re in. At the end of the day, they are just regular people who get to do what they love and get paid handsomely for it. That doesn’t mean that they are immune from outrageous taxes (google the jock tax and get at me), labor disputes, and the whole nine. They are not immune from being stuck in a job they hate even though it pays them millions and millions. That also doesn’t mean that the players-just like the fans that work in factories and warehouses of bigger corporations aren’t interchangeable spokes in a wheel in the grand scheme of the league and the owners. Again, the dynamics are the same but the circumstances are elevated.

Strip away the visibility and the NBA is no different than any other corporation in America. It’s labor driven. The owners make most of the money. The labor is ultimately expendable. The only difference between the NBA and the occupations of some of these fans is the visibility and the money. If some fans view the owner as an owner instead of the “team” and view the players as they would themselves when dealing the owners and management, I bet that the worth of a player would look differently. It would look just like you, the fan at work.

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