Tag Archives: revenue sharing

“Fairness” in sports

My brother Conor (when he’s not blogging about political theory) does some excellent writing about Barcelona’s dominant football team. A couple weeks ago, he took up the age-old topic of fairness in sports in the context of European soccer. In most European leagues, there are no salary caps, revenue sharing agreements, or redistributive drafts. Rather than coddling the worst teams, leagues bust them down a division. Conor defends the uncontrolled European league structures with a call to the benefits of an aristocratic class:

There’s no escaping it. [Barcelona’s] degree of perfection requires an unequal distribution of talent and resources. This concatenated brilliance is probably unjust when measured against nearly any standard of fairness—but it’s also as close as anyone has yet come to fulfilling that specific style of play. FC Barcelona are but one example. For instance, recent Chelsea squads have flirted with perfection of a wholly different style of play. They are no less aristocratic simply because they have refined different aspects of their squad. Their strengths may be different, but they are no less refined for that. Every coat of arms is different—the aristocratic task for each is to live up to their particular identity. Undemocratic though they are, no one will mistake them for ordinary.

For whatever else they do to The Game As A Whole (or As A Spectacle), aristocratic clubs elevate the stakes and—more often than not—the peaks of athletic achievement. If Barcelona regularly administers whippings to clubs in La Liga’s middle and lower echelons, their clásico jousts with Madrid have periodically taken both teams yet closer to the pinnacle of sport.

I find this topic endlessly interesting, especially the comparison between United States leagues and European leagues.  The United States redistributes less income proportionally than many other Continue reading

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The NFL vs. the MLB

Noted left wing crazy Bill Maher got a lot of sports guys fired up last year by using the NFL versus the MLB as a metaphor for the Democratic Party versus the Republican Party and “fairness” versus “unfairness.” Here’s a stereotypical response from Allen Barra in the Atlantic. It’s even being dragged up again this year.

Maher’s argument is that NFL revenue sharing looks like socialism (what a dirty word!) and makes the NFL a “fairer” league, allowing small market teams like the Packers and Steelers to win Super Bowls, while the MLB lets big market teams Continue reading

Money in college sports

Recruiting scandals plague college football and men’s basketball. These sports generate huge fan interest and lots of revenue for schools (or so we’re told). As the story goes, schools stand to gain a lot from recruiting top players, so rule-breaking is inevitable.

There’s been a lot of interest in this topic lately. The firestorm began with a September National College Players Association report estimating that college football players are worth 6 figures to their schools on average. Likewise, the report argues that men’s basketball players are worth over $1 million each!  Continue reading