Tag Archives: Pro Sports

The lack of equity in soccer has gotten out of hand 

Football, aka soccer in the states, is a beautiful game. The game most of the world loves. The game where everyone with just the ability and desire to work hard to earn their chance on a team will make it right? Maybe you would also hear that it is the sport where “anyone or any team can win.” Well, you are actually almost utterly wrong if you think that. You can spend your entire life working towards making it to the highest level and maybe have the chance to win a title for your team. Instead, you will likely just end up losing to a team that can spend on players who have better talent than you. So I am going to explain to you how wealthy billionaires have ruined football. 

First, let me explain why the owners have more power than American sports owners. In American sports, there is something called a salary cap. This salary cap system is used in many American sports to stop teams’ excessive amounts of money. Yes, in European soccer, there is some sort of rule where you aren’t allowed to spend over a certain amount for wages. However, this rule is relatively easy to bypass for teams with wealthy owners. They can spend more on wages than the less affluent teams due to their higher wealth, causing this separation between teams. This leads to exclusive competition among only a few teams in the league compared to everyone else.

 Now, what teams have these types of owners? Simple answer: almost every single good one. 

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Let’s talk about one of the first real mega-money men of the sport, Roman Abramovich, the owner of Chelsea F.C. He took ownership of the team in June 2003. He wanted to take over the club because he saw potential in the team after they finished fourth. In total, under his reign of ownership, Chelsea has won nearly 20 trophies, with more still to come for as long as he is in charge. It also has kept them at the top consistently for most of that time.  Yet he has also spent nearly 4 billion dollars on players alone to get Chelsea to where they are.

Years of constant investment in some of the best players in the world can also impact players who could succeed in this newfound competition for a position. A player who has had this experience is Tammy Abraham. He played for Chelsea FC, and got consistent game time during the 2019-2020 season. During this season, he shined looking like one of the best strikers in the premier league and thought he would keep the form going. Then, Chelsea spent millions on strikers such as Timo Werner in 2020 and Romelu Lukaku in 2021 to push him out of the starting position. He has since moved to a team named Roma FC, where he has gotten off to a good start.

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Now that we learned what it is like to be at the top, let us see what it is like to be average. Sometimes, you can spend this mass amount of money and still not reach the heights of winning trophies or competing for more significant competitions. For example, Everton, a team that has spent nearly 500 million dollars, still has found little success.

What owners mainly spend their money on is the transfer fees of players. For example, recently, Manchester City spent nearly 130 million dollars on Jack Grealish. Yes, spending that much money on a single person is extreme, but that is the primary way for teams to compete for the top.

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These owners also want more ways to make money. Through wanting to cut costs on running the team, taking money from the team, and even trying to come up with grand ideas to bring more cash into themselves. An example of this would be Manchester United’s owners taking money from transfer fees to pay their own expenses.

The sport is now viewed by hardcore fans as being a cash grab rather than an experience for anyone and everyone. A way the fans feel this is through ticket prices. The average ticket price to get into Premier League games increases every season and gets more hurtful to fans’ pockets. Not only in tickets, but the owners also likely make fans overpay for any sort of merchandise that the team makes, such as jerseys, scarves, hats, etc.

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Overall, owners can completely invest in making their team better to become a more prominent name to make their money. They rob players’ careers to make money for their own gain rather than even caring about the players; they don’t care about the people who give them the money, the fans.

Chris DeGroote is a junior member of the Multimedia Journalism class.

Is the NBA overpaying its players?

Photo by Vladislav Reshetnyak on Pexels.com

The National Basketball Association (NBA) is one of the most profitable sports in the entire world. Generating $8 billion dollars in revenue last year, the league holds the world’s third highest income across all sports. It has been America’s most heavily followed sport. Aside from its national popularity, the NBA yields roughly $500 million in international media agreements every year. The individual franchises themselves are valued at an average of $2.12 billion dollars, and that number continues to climb. So with the league having such a high income year in and year out, it makes sense that the average NBA player’s salary is $7.7 million dollars, right? This question is still unanswered and is debated every day by hoops junkies and experts alike.

To be able to properly address whether there is an issue with the league’s current average salary, we must first understand how salaries are determined. There are various levels to different salaries players can make. These include the rookie scale contracts, veteran-minimum contracts, and ‘SuperMax’ contracts.

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Jalen Smith, MSJ Class of 2018. Photo Credit: MGoBlog / Flickr (https://flic.kr/p/2dVykFA)

For example, first-round draft pick out of the University of Maryland, and MSJ Class of 2018 graduate, Jalen Smith received a ‘Rookie Scale Contract’ after being drafted 10th overall by the Phoenix Suns. The ‘Rookie Scale Contract’ is the first contract negotiated by a team and their first round draft pick. This contract entails a minimum length of 2 years, with a 3rd and 4th year option. The salary of said contract is determined by the rookie salary scale and can vary depending on minutes played, injuries, suspensions, etc. In Jalen’s case, he inked a 4-year deal worth $19.3 million dollars, an average salary of $4.825 million. However, a contract is much different for that of an undrafted rookie. The least amount of money an undrafted rookie player can make in his first year with their team is $893,310 dollars. That number typically goes up when the player’s minutes increase, points per game (ppg) increase, rebounds per game (rpg) increase, etc. The rookie salary scale continues to grow as the “salary cap” grows and other various elements to a team’s spending budget increases. That being said, does the NBA have a serious problem on its hands, or is this just the nature of the beast?

If there is one thing that the NBA should be commended for, it’s the fact that they do not sell league veterans short on their ‘vet-minimum’ salary. The base ‘vet-minimum’ salary a player with 10 or more years of service in the league can receive is $2,564,743 million dollars annually. If the ‘vet-minimum’ deal said player was signed to is a multi-year deal, they will receive the above salary each year pending the contract’s terms and conditions designated by the franchise. For example, longtime NBA center Marc Gasol signed a 2-year, vet-minimum deal last offseason with the Los Angeles Lakers. The league encourages teams to sign veteran players to deals by lessening the amount of “real money” the veteran accounts for on the franchise’s payroll. The NBA will reimburse teams for signing veteran players by paying off a certain portion of the vet’s salary that is equivalent to a 2-3 year player’s minimum salary. Basically, a vet can sign a 1-year contract worth $2.8 million, but the team that signed him only has to pay $1.6 million of that deal. Alleviating a franchise of a portion of a veteran player’s salary helps the NBA continue to keep veterans on rosters and a part of the league’s community. 

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Oklahoma City takes on the Golden State Warriors in NBA action. Photo Credit: Derrick Story / Flickr (https://flic.kr/p/9if3DY)

A gray area of the league that is arguably the most debated and talked about aspect of salaries is the ‘SuperMax’ extension that can be given to all players regardless of age/years played. The ‘SuperMax’ contract extension is the largest amount of money a team can offer a player, typically a superstar of the league. The terms of the contract vary depending on how long the player has been in the league. For example, a player that has been in the NBA between 7-9 years can earn an extension worth greater than 30% of the franchise’s overall salary space. This means that the ‘SuperMax’ itself has to be worth at least 30% of the entire team’s payroll. Another option the team has is to increase the player’s salary by 105% of what they earned the previous year. Aside from the numbers aspect of the ‘SuperMax’ deal, it can cause division in locker rooms and between teammates.

Players who make the league minimum or significantly less than that of a ‘SuperMax’ player can feel undervalued and unappreciated. Some can even be envious of their teammates. For example, former Houston Rocket shooting guard James Harden was traded to the Brooklyn Nets after having a fallout with the Rockets. Harden was adamant about not playing for Houston, turning down a 2-year deal worth $103 million dollars. As a player on the Rockets at that time, it would have been easy to feel discredited and overlooked by the coaches and management. Even though he was later released, former center for the Rockets DeMarcus Cousins voiced his displeasure with management and with James when it came to how the situation was handled. This is a prime example of how ‘SuperMax’ contracts can rip a franchise apart.

After analyzing and reviewing the NBA salary and how it works, do you feel that the players are overpaid, underpaid, or paid just right? Should franchises continue to dish out ‘SuperMax’ deals, or should the league regulate how many players can receive these contracts? With the NBA having a “soft” salary cap, meaning the cap number can be stretched and adjusted, should the league switch to a “hard” cap to limit super teams and “big threes”? All these questions I have presented all stem from one, single major debate…are NBA players overpaid?

Brayden Spurgeon is a member of Mr. Dan Peightel’s Honors Freshman English class.

Why high school athletes should be able to go straight to the NBA

In the basketball world, there is a lot of controversy surrounding the topic of athletes going pro straight out of high school. The current rule to enter the NBA draft is that you need to be 19 years old and one year out of high school. This was not the case until the rule was created in 2005. If athletes are physically ready to go pro and mature enough to handle the spotlight, then it should be up to them to decide what their future holds. 

For many of the highly recruited players, they will only spend one year out of high school before entering the draft. This is known as the one-and-done rule. Their goal is to get to the NBA and they are looking for the most productive way to get there. The typical route is to attend college for one year and then declare for the draft. This route however is becoming less common for the highly rated athletes who are either going overseas to play or playing in the NBA G league. These alternatives are becoming more common because they replicate the NBA game more than playing in college would. The college game is taking a hit by not getting every star player that it used to get year in and year out. 

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Some people may say that these high school kids are not mature enough to play in the NBA at such a young age but one year will not make much of a difference or not any difference at all. Also, the college game is much different than the NBA. There have been some great college players who have turned out to be busts in the NBA. The quicker these players can get to the league then more experience they will get.

One of the main problems about not allowing an athlete to go straight to the pros after high school is the risk of injury. If a player were to get an injury during that year before they are eligible, their draft stock could be heavily impacted in a negative way and could have a long-lasting impact on their whole career. Take Kevin Ware for example. Ware was a guard for the University of Louisville basketball team and during the Elite Eight of the 2013 NCAA tournament, he suffered one of the most horrific injuries in sports history. After a long recovery, Ware decided to enter the 2016 NBA draft but unfortunately went undrafted. His injury definitely stalled his progress and might have cost him a chance to play in the NBA. 

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To go along with the risk of injury, college athletes do not get paid. These athletes have spent their entire lives working to play the game they love for a living and one injury could leave them walking away with nothing.  Also, the quicker these athletes can get to the pros, the quicker they can get through their rookie contracts and earn a more lucrative contract. 

Another reason that this rule should be revised is that the ones who are going to college spend half of their time in the classroom. These athletes have to take classes that they are not going to use as a career and they spend half of their day in class when they could be working on their game instead. There are also restrictions on how much college teams are allowed to practice whereas in the NBA there are no restrictions. 

There have been multiple players who went straight to the pros out of high school when the rule was not in effect. Take Lebron James as an example. Lebron was one of the most hyped players of his generation coming out of high school.  Some may argue that he is the best basketball player of all time. Kobe Bryant is another prime example. Kobe went straight to the league from high school and ended his career with five rings. There have been many players that have done perfectly fine with the transition from high school to the NBA when there was no rule.

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The argument of whether the NBA should allow players to go straight to the league out of high school is one that has been going on for decades. There have recently been talks around this topic so it will be interesting to see if they update the rule in the near future.

Sean Thompson is a senior member of the Multimedia Journalism class

Ramping up for a season

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Going in to March, the NFL and the Players union came to an agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. This change could lead to an addition to 2 more weeks to the NFL season, with the NFL wanting to keep the Super Bowl in early February the preseason could be at risk.

On July 1st, amid the global pandemic, the NFL decided to cancel 2 of the 4 preseason games, they would eventually eliminate the preseason as a whole for the season. There having been musings of eliminating the preseason or making it shorter. Traditionally there has been a set plan for all teams in ramping up to the season. Training camp began to take place in mid-July and the preseason would then end in late August. This situation has given players time to get back in to game shape. For the front office, it provides ample time to evaluate talent for the upcoming season. For late-round rookies this was their time to compete for a roster spot and playing time. Each season it feels like there’s always players who impress in the preseason and either land a spot on the active roster or practice squad.

COVID-19 created a unique situation for all pro sports league. The MLB was the first major American sports league to return, and in a normal season the teams would travel down to Florida or Arizona for a 6 week program called Spring Training. This set up allows for teams to play games each day and allows for players to work out in state of the art MLB facilities. Pitchers and catchers often report to spring training a few weeks before the other players due to the need to ramp up for the season and get their arm back into game shape.

This season the NFL and MLB had to adapt to the coronavirus while attempting to complete a regular season. The MLB was quick to begin, rushing the Spring Training process. It began on July 1st with games starting on July 24th. Providing players 3 weeks of training and a few exhibition games. For hitters this was a challenge but pitchers were the ones who were most affected by this plan. The MLB rushed to gain the first few days of views before the NBA and NHL began to play their bubble games.

The MLB was unable to secure the Spring Training facilities to potentially create 2 bubbles with both Leagues represented. Coronavirus cases in Florida and Arizona were at an all-time high during July, and sending the players to the facilities would cause a multitude of scheduling issues. The MLB also allowed for some of the top prospects to work out and play intersquad games at local minor league facilities. This made games in Florida and Arizona impossible due to the nature of the virus and the limited space. The MLB would have a 60 game season and then create a bubble for the playoffs in other host cities.

But what about the pitchers? The motions of pitching requires ample time along with a strict throwing routine. Pitching requires immense balance, correct arm angles, and the ability to use your wrist and elbow along with your lower body. Game shape for MLB pitchers is much harder to attain then it is for hitters. The increase of injuries for pitchers shows how intense the game can be and how even the best to ever play are constantly plagued by injury. The MLB’s inability to provide ample time for all the athletes while chasing TV times is irresponsible and will have major ramifications on the careers of all the athletes affected.

The NFL was unable to complete any preseason games along with no joint practices. Both leagues were at a major disadvantage. The inability to have proper time and proper competition cost both leagues dearly. The NBA and NHL were able to escape with only a few major injuries, but the NFL and MLB would be a completely different situation. Training camp brought no major injuries but on the second day of the MLB season, Future Hall of Famer Justin Verlander was recommended Tommy John surgery for an sustained in the season opener. On August 4th, then NL Cy Young favorite Mike Soroka, would be shut down for the season due to torn achilles. Other Major injuries include, Seranthony Dominguez, the only serviceable Phillies reliever and World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg.

The NFL was forced to cancel the preseason based off the circumstances of COVID-19, and they had a more intense plan set in the CBA so there was little uncertainty if the season was in doubt. The cancelation of preseason has lead to an unprecedented amount of injuries. In week 2 of the NFL season, The San Francisco 49ers and the New York Jets faced off at MetLife Stadium. In that game the 49ers sustained injuries to All Pro and former DROY Nick Bosa, Starting QB Jimmy Garoppolo, and Jerick McKinnon on the field. Bosa’s was the only one that was season ending, but all of the injuries have lingered for the other players leading to a high ankle sprain for Jimmy Garoppolo following a week 8 game against the Seattle Seahawks. The New York Giants lost franchise running back Saquon Barkley to another ACL tear in his week 2 affair against the Bears. Running backs Nick Chubb and Austin Ekler both sustained lower-body injuries early in the season. There has also been a lack of late round and undrafted players who are making a big difference. The Baltimore Ravens have always had an undrafted player on the active roster from the previous draft class. The only two players in the 2020 7th round that were starters for one week or more, kicker Sam Sloman, who won the Rams kicking job and QB Ben DiNucci who started for the injured Andy Dalton in week 8. There have been a few impressive undrafted players, the most notable being James Robinson, who’s filled in admirably for the Jags with the release of Leonard Fournette. Rodrigo Blankenship has been a stable get for the Colts special teams. But the late round talent has gone dry.

The NFL will be able to execute the season if they continue the control of the virus they have had so far but there is no guarantee. The lack of late round talent and the injuries of high end talent could be a concern for teams in finding inhouse replacements and having a next man up mentality. The MLB barely got over the finish line.. The injury to Justin Verlander could be one that leads to the decline of the first ballot Hall of Famer and one of the best pitchers to ever step on the mound. Mike Soroka will also have to make a huge comeback, as he’s in the middle of his early prime years and not being at 100% could hurt him, especially with the nature of his injury. In the NFL Saquon Barkley had his second year of injuries, after his electric rookie year he has become injury prone. This is more due towards the Giants inability to build an offense and protect their key players. Saquon is a generational talent but the injury bug could hurt him and his legacy if the Giants don’t protect him. The amount of lower-body injuries to running backs this season is high and shows how these all-pro backs aren’t able to be as prolific without the preseason tune up. Running backs take beatings week in and week out, and not being ready or seasoned has caused RB’s to fall apart early on.

The Game between the Jets and 49ers spurred a lot of controversy. The loss of Nick Bosa and the injury to Jimmy Garoppolo created concerns over the turf quality, but this was soon debunked. Nick Bosa was the Defensive Rookie of the Year last year and Jimmy Garoppolo led the 49ers to the SuperBowl. The amount of time needed to ramp up and condition is an issue for teams and it was obvious the 49ers were getting the bottom of the stick with their injury concerns.

As the season went on injuries slowed, there were minor freak injuries and major injuries that happened due to the nature of both sports. Ankle injuries are hard to blame on athletes but arm injuries are based off of how ready the player was and how hard they are being worked during the season. Verlander is an ace who is over 35 and is expected to throw every 5th day due to the nature of the sport. Saquon Barkley is expected to run the ball 25 times with no preseason to get him 100%. It’s hard for the league to see these injures and realize preseason and spring training are crucial for the game.

Andrew Sheppard is a senior member of the Multimedia Journalism class