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Recent media activities have shown an increasing trend among media corporations and information outlets to provide the public with an in-depth coverage of sports activities including scandals, conflicts, and news updates. These crises have become common especially where drugs, financial difficulties, sex, and violence are involved.
The coverage often comprise on field or court issues, and direct conflict with off-the-field stakeholders and personalities. Such crises are often the cause of severe reputation problems to sports organizations, clubs and stakeholders (including players, club owners, fans, and the management).
Scandals of fair play where sportsmen and women or athletes, clubs and officials of sports organizations have often been accused of corrupting their winning are the most common as they receive a lot of media attention.
There have also been problems of financial crises experienced by clubs in various sports organizations such as those witnessed in the Spanish Football League recently whereby many clubs could not afford to sufficiently pay their players.
National Basketball Association (NBA)
The National Basketball Association (NBA) is one of most popular sports organizations in the US. It consists of thirty clubs with twenty-nine of them based in the US while the others are based in Canada. It is a member of the USA Basketball which is the National Governing Body in- charge of basketball in the country.
NBA is also recognized by the International Basketball Federation. It was established in 1946 as the Basketball Association of America having been founded by individuals who had previously owned key ice hockey arenas in Midwestern Northeastern United States and Canada. The association started with just eleven teams.
It later merged with the National Basketball League to form the National Basketball Association in 1949. Currently, it has over seventeen franchises across cities within the US. Since then, team expansions, relocations and reductions have seen the number increase to thirty.
NBA league organization groups the thirty teams into the Western and Eastern Conferences. There are three divisions in each conference. Every division makes five teams. The existing league divisional arrangement was established in the 2004-05 season. NBA teams plays 42 games at home and an equal number of away games. This makes 82 games in a season.
Each team has to play against every other team in its division four times in a season. This translates into sixteen games considering that they are five teams in every division. There are 24 more games where each of the teams is drawn against 6 teams from different division, but in the same conference.
A team has to play the remaining four teams in the two divisions thrice, translating into 12 games. In addition, every team has to play against all the teams in the opposite conference twice, bringing the total number of games played in this category to thirty.
Each team trains its players in the summer break when they are not playing competitive matches. The purpose of the training is to enable coaches to assess all players before making a final selection of a 12-man team of active players and a furthermore 3-man inactive members of the team.
During this time, teams are allowed to strengthen their squad as they prepare for a rigorous regular season. Clubs are allowed to sign players who have less than two years of experience in the NBA. Teams’ preparation normally takes place between September and the end of the third week in October.
NBA strike 2011
The NBA strike began on the 1st of July, 2011 and is still in effect until the time when the NBA owners and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) will make a deal (Caciola, 2011).
NBA players are revolting against the NBA owners planned reduction of players’ salary by about 40% as well as the introduction of hard salary cap of $45 million for every team as opposed to the existing soft cap of $58 million (Beck, 2011).
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This translated into $800 million for players’ salary and the NBA maintained that it was losing an average of about $300 million per season. This means that NBA clubs cannot sign players or trade them. At the same time, players cannot access their staff, trainers, or even team facilities.
Negotiations had begun early this year as the deal that had been signed by the NBA owners and the National Basketball Players Association was to end on June 30, 2011. The players’ representatives, the National Basketball Players Association, rejected the new figures and rejected the proposed changes.
In May this year, the union had filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the NBA arguing that the basketball body was insincere in their negotiation. However, this was rejected by the NBA arguing that they were consistent with the labour laws provided by the federal government.
In subsequent negotiations, the players agreed a pay cut of $500 million which will be done gradually within the next five years. On the contrary, the owners put forward a $2 billion cut on salary per year for the next ten years.
The NBA also came up with a flex cap of about $62 million, but this was still rejected by the union arguing that it would still lead to a hard cap. The two sides still failed to reach an agreement by 30 June, 2011, and this resulted into the lockout, with each side accusing the other for being responsible for the standoff.
Negotiations recommenced on the 1st of August, but to no avail. Even after filing a complaint citing unfair labor practices at a Federal District Court in New York and the NLRB by the NBA against the union, no agreement was made in the subsequent negotiation that occurred on 31st August as well as the 13th of September.
The major cause of their disagreement is still the NBA owners’ salary cap structure. The NBA owners have refused to concede their ground even though players have agreed to increase their pay cut offer if the owners agree to compromise their hard cap stance.
Again, while some owners feel that the players’ willingness to agree on pay cut is fair, some insists that there must be a structure which enables all teams to compete favourably. This has been the situation which may possibly lead to cancellation of the 2011-2012 NBA league as well as other consequences.
Stakeholders affected by the NBA lockout
The major stakeholders involved in the NBA include the players, owners/clubs, staff, union, and the fans. The USA Basketball and the International Basketball Federation are also major stakeholders affected by the lockout.
Ramifications of the lockout on stakeholders
As it seems, there is a possibility of the 2011-2012 season being cancelled if both sides fail to agree. Already the NBA has begun to cancel league activities. The planned training camps which were set to begin on the 3rd of October and end on the 15th of the same month have been cancelled. If no agreement is made by October 5th, then the league has to be cancelled (Stein, 2011).
This would mean that the clubs will not be able to collect revenues from ticket sales, contracts, trade and other related revenues collected during normal league seasons. This means that the clubs and owners will have their major sources of revenues cut off and may even cause some clubs to file for bankruptcy due to failure to repay loans and pay utilities from their cash flow.
Worse still, the union may consider decertification of the NBA as they had earlier threatened, and this will allow players to take control of the sport (Abbott & Broussard, 2011). This would mean that the owners would have lost their investments.
The clubs could also lose on talents as star players in their teams leave for other clubs in other leagues or countries. According to Bucher (2011) the union is already encouraging players to look for clubs overseas where they could find better offer.
The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) is also planning to allow players who are currently on NBA contract to play overseas should the lockout persists. However, this would jeopardize clubs activities when the standoff is finally resolved as some players could return injured. Such move would also disrupt the union’s activities as it would reduce its strength and negotiation power.
Failure to reach an agreement would also affect players who have contract with these clubs. As long as the lockout remains, they cannot access their clubs’ training facilities or even the coaching staff.
Lack of playing time lowers the players’ ability to maintain or up their game and this obviously affects the length of their career. Besides, the players will not be able to earn their salaries since clubs will not have the financial capacity to pay their players.
The lockout will also deny the basketball fans in the country the chance to watch and follow their favourite sport. The fans are also likely to lose their favourite players who may decide to move to other leagues. Finally, the National Governing Body will also have to lose on subscription from the NBA clubs should the season be cancelled.
This crisis will certainly affect the activities of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) especially on the upcoming 2012 Olympics in the men’s basketball tournament, where the NBA was supposed to provide insurance coverage to players involved in this competition (Sheridan, 2011). As a result, this agreement has been cancelled.
Public relation strategies
The NBA has largely used the media to defend itself against the accusations labeled against it by the NBPA and to assure the general public and stakeholders about their commitment to resolve the standoff. They maintain that their proposals are aimed at improving competition in the game and making the sport sustainable.
The owners claim that the economic downturn has made it difficult to make profits and instead they continue making loses. As such, these reductions and hard cap are necessary to achieve sustainability in the sport. They also site the need to make the league more competitive as their other reason.
They argue that the soft cap has made it almost impossible to allow some clubs facing financial difficulties to compete favourably in the league. However, despite this standoff, they have still assured the fans and the general public in their press statements and public speech that they are sure a deal will be reached before the league resumes.
They have also used the courts and the NLRB to prove to the public and other stakeholders that they are committed to the process, and that it is the NBPA that has consistently frustrated their efforts.
They used the NLRB and the court to accuse the players for their unwillingness to cooperate in the negotiation. In these instances, they argued that the NBPA’s threat to file antitrust lawsuits as well as to decertify the NBA shows the NBPA lack of commitment to finding solution to the problem.
Failure of the public relations strategies
Some players have realised that the public statements and assurance made by the NBA that the issue will be resolved on time is not sincere since the owners have maintained their stand (Aschburner, 2011).
As such over sixty players under the NBA contract have signed for foreign clubs and are set to play in those leagues until the lockout is resolved (Hochman, 2011).
This implies that their public relation strategies did not even convince the International Basketball Federation that a solution to the problem would be found soon and therefore allowed on contract players to move overseas temporarily.
Other players have opted to play in local pick-up games or in organized exhibition tournaments in the country. It is because the NBA’s public relations strategies failed to convince stakeholders such as FIBA that made the international body to cancel the 2012 Olympic contract between them.
The NBA 2011 lockout has taken different turn from the one that was witnessed in 2005. As it seems, things may move from bad to worse as both parties are not willing to lose their bargain. All the public relation strategies which have been applied by both sides have failed to convince stakeholders that things are well and that a deal is about to be reached.
Abbott, H., & Broussard, C. (2011). Sources: Agents want union to decertify. Web.
Aschburner, S. (2011). On eve of deadline, likelihood of compromise looks slim. Web.
Beck, H. (2011). Progress of negotiations Is hidden in semantics. The New York Times. Web.
Bucher, R. (2011). Perils abound when heading to Europe. ESPN The Magazine. Web.
Cacciola, S. (2011). NBA owners lock out players. Sports Journalism in The Wall Street Journal. Web.
Hochman, B. (2011). Nuggets’ Kenyon Martin to sign largest contract in Chinese league’s history. The Denver Post. Web.
Sheridan, C. (2011). London Olympics facing lockout. Web.
Stein, M. (2011). David Stern: Season hangs in balance. Web.