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Just Off-Camera

"They respect you if you write. The dumber the world gets, the more the words matter." -Dan Jenkins


Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Head To Head: The Aftermath

Yesterday, Josh Maurer made his debut on Just Off Camera, debating Alex on the issue of whether or not athletes new to a league should be able to choose where they play instead of entering a draft.

Consider these the closing arguments to yesterday's debate. If you haven't read it yet, click here to see the columns that set forth the issues.

Josh writes:

To your point that players can choose other leagues to play for, a la the CFL or Arena League: This is not a reasonable alternative. It's not comparable to playing in the "major league," be it the NFL, NBA, MLB, or NHL. Salaries are about 10x lower or more. It'd be like saying that if Michael Eisner didn't like the way Disney was treating him, he still had the option to go run a circus.

To that, I write:

Ask J.D. Drew if playing in another league was a reasonable alternative. He played for two seasons for the independent St. Paul Saints rather than take what the Phillies were offering, and eventually he got what he wanted when he was drafted again by the Cardinals. I'd say it's a good thing he got what he was looking for then, because he hasn't lived up to his promise and probably couldn't command what he was initially looking for now anyway.

On another point, Josh writes:

To your point that when players enter a draft they are signing up for a league, not a team, I ask this: Who pays their salaries? Who hires and fires their coworkers (teammates, coaches, trainers)? Who makes the guidelines by which they must comply on a daily basis? The team/organization they play for, not the league that simply oversees things. I would imagine if you polled all pro athletes, they would almost unanimously agree they are working for a team, not a league.

And I say:

In a league such as the NFL, where there is significant revenue sharing, I'd say the majority of income to a team (and therefore the majority of where salary comes from) is from the league. I don't think players fully recognize this. I also think that entering a league's draft can be very similar to, say, applying to work at a large corporation. Just like the corporation might place you in one of its offices around the country, so can the league assign you to a given team. And, like in a corporation, after you've put in enough time, you could ask for a transfer - or in the case of a league, become a free agent. The teams within a league compete with each other, creating a sense of belonging to a team, not a league, but it is ultimately the league that is the players' employer. Without the league, the teams would have no structure under which to compete.

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