June 30, 2009

Perception versus reality

The NHL's moment of truth

I think I'm going to have to side with the owners on this one. A lot of people have lost a good deal of money because of the stock market. Teams that look healthy, may not be. It just depends on when and where owners have invested their money.

Just as the average person has been hit pretty hard by the economy, so have athletes and owners alike. For player agents to assume that the owners are bluffing when they say that they don't have the money to sign some of these guy is to be intentionally ignorant of the facts. Certainly they're at least partly bluffing. But at the same time, it's partly true.

Make no mistake - player agents are out to make money for themselves. I know that a lot of athletes place an inordinate amount of trust in their agents, but the fact is that they wouldn't be in business if they couldn't make money at it. And managing an athlete can bring in a lot of money. I'm sure most genuinely care about the players they manage to varying degrees, but not all of them do.

So they work the system to their own advantage - which, most of the time, is also to the athlete's advantage. That is, unless your agent is someone like Scott Boras. Then he only works the system to his own advantage.

Frankly, I find the whole agent-athlete relationship to be a bit shady. But then, I'm not one to trust people completely. Maybe it's because I find it strange the complete trust athletes have in their agents when they don't trust much of anyone else. And in any other situation, they wouldn't trust someone in a similar position to their agents.

Back to the owners, there are a great many billionaires that have lost half of their wealth. Now, half of a few billion is still nothing to sneeze at, sure, but these people aren't used to downgrading their lifestyles. (Well, to be honest, no one is - but that's another story completely.) However, spreading half of your income around to cover what you'd previously used twice that much for doesn't always work - even when you're talking numbers in the billions.

For example, if you've got two teams that you're used to blowing $450 million on each a season, and suddenly you've lost half your income - that's a problem. Most people probably wouldn't think so, but we're talking relative economics here. If you're used to living a certain way and you lose half of your income, you'd be having a hard time, too. Try going from a two income household to just one and get back to me.

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