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07/30/2006: "Holdouts...Who Does It Hurt More The Player, The Team or The Game???"

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How Holding Out affects the "game"
Written by Tino Wallace for http://www.blacksportsonline.com
Email Tino Wallace

The world of professional sports has vastly evolved over the years. Back in the 60’s pro football players had 2nd jobs just to support themselves. Now simply having your name on a pro roster alone can net you hundreds of thousands of dollars per year even if you don’t see a single minute of game time the entire season. Sports these days are just more than a pastime they are an Event. They can pour millions of dollars into a small or large market city. Professional leagues such as the NBA, MLB, and the NFL are starting to broaden their marketing approach by selling anything from jerseys, to bobble heads; to music playing can openers in order to promote their team. Professional sports are now making more money than ever but of course with more money, as said by the late Notorious B.I.G., comes more problems.

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Pro Athletes are the driving force behind sports. After all they are the “product”. They are whom we gather to watch on Sundays during the fall, someone we spend our summer afternoons watching in the ballpark, and the ones who we see sprinting up and down the basketball arenas all over the country. Pro athletes are being placed on a pedestal by us “the fans”, and are perceived to be larger than life figures. They, and the agents whom work for them, now realize their power. It is simple supply and demand, they know the fans want to see them; therefore someone will compensate them for their services. It’s not a complex concept. If the current team they play for does not want to ante up, then someone will. We have been seeing this more and more each passing year. The infamous Terrell Owens vs. Philadelphia Eagles feud all somehow started by TO wanting to restructure his current deal and the Eagles not wanting to do so. We all remember how Latrell Sprewell insisted that the could not feed his family off of the contact agreement he had with the T-Wolves a few years back. I hope his family is doing ok now. Just as recent as this current off-season Javon Walker and Jerry Porter both demanded to be traded because on salary reasons. Even rookies are getting into the act. USC star running back Reggie Bush is currently involved in a stand off with the New Orleans Saints about how much he should be compensated for his services.

Some insist that these practices are detrimental to the games. Others sympathize with the athletes. It is easy to say “Why does this kid think he deserves this much money coming out of college, he hasn’t done anything yet.” An athlete would respond by bringing up the unfortunate even that he sustains a possible career ending injury, Jason Williams former Duke point guard. This is especially true in the NFL, a league in which the average career lasts for less than 5 years and players do not have guaranteed contracts. It is easy to paint the athletes to be “whinny” rich kids asking for more money, but if it were possible would you do what you could to get a pay raise on your job? Now sure if a normal person were to “holdout” until he gets a raise he or she would more than likely be fired before they could blink their eye, but people do lobby for raises to their managers by presenting their body of work and discussing why they feel they should receive more compensation. Athletes do the same thing but in different ways, and again agents have a huge part in this. They are the athlete’s mouthpiece to the team’s ownership staff.

Whether you like the practice of “holding out” or not, it does add more “drama” to the dreaded “off-season”. Some say it creates for more interesting games, whom is not going to want to watch TO’s return to Lincoln Financial Field this fall? Some say it hurts the player ability to progress, how many rookies of the past few years missed training camp or portions of it holding out? Bottom line you’d better get used to seeing more politics in the business of sports as it continues to grow across the US and the world.