The NBA today is one of the most popular leagues in the world today as millions of people watch the best athletes in the world compete at the highest level on both television and in person. Not only does the NBA bring in a great deal of viewership, but also brings in an enormous amount of capital. Both attending a game in person and watching a game on TV rakes in millions of dollars as people around the world cannot get enough of the growing sport of basketball. However, their is a huge imbalance between the amount of money an NBA player is paid and the amount of money that the league and the owners are bringing in year over year. The dynamic between the players and the NBA owners is constantly in flux as the NBA grows in popularity and questions such as “Are NBA players paid enough in comparison to the amount of money that the owners make?” and “Could the NBA survive without owners?” come to fruition.
Interestingly enough, the dynamic between the players and the owners is quite similar to the dynamic between bourgeoisie and the proletariat detailed by Karl Marx. The very rich few in a capitalistic society maintains a great deal of power over the poorer
people in the working class of the society, similar to how the owners hold power over the players. In addition, the distribution of wealth between the bourgeoisie in many countries and the people in the working class as a whole is unfathomable and also holds true in regards to the amount of money the owners make in comparison to the amount the players are paid. In order for the NBA to succeed, it needs talented players to bring in views and drive cash flow. This is starkly similar to the way in which the bourgeoisie used the working class in order to increase their personal wealth and build their businesses as the proletariats would work in the riches factories and produce their products.
Marx and His Idea In Theory – In Marx’s writings, specifically The Communist Manifesto, he explains how the Proletariats within a given society would not be able to live under the Bourgeoisie and would eventually revolt in a communist revolution. In the process of revolt, the proletariat would overthrow and assume control over the government in an effort to remove class barriers and install the system of communism. By removing traditional economic systems, everybody is placed on an equal playing field where the wealth is redistributed equally between all people. There would no longer be any rich or poor as everybody would be given the same amount of money to live off of. After the communist system is in place and running smoothly, Marx believed that government would in time dissolve and the people within the society live equal and fairly with each other. A stateless, classless and moneyless society would be born.
Communism and The NBA Interpretation – As discussed previously, there is currently a massive discrepancy between the amount of money that the owners make and the amount of money that the players are paid. Theoretically, if the players are considered the proletariat and the owners are considered the bourgeoisie, the players will eventually feel compelled to overthrow the owners along with the league management and take matters into their own hands. I could speak heavily on the process in which the players would need to take in order to successfully do so, but that would take a large portion of time and would further complicate the interpretation. For the purpose of this concept, I have assumed that the players have successfully overthrown the pre-existing league structure along with the owners. The players would no longer have to answer to a higher up in an organization as the organization would be a collective whole with each person being payed the exact same amount. The massive amounts of revenue that the NBA brings in on a yearly basis from TV, merchandise, and ticket sales would be directly distributed to the players. No longer would players be paid salaries and everybody within the league would be treated equally in terms of monetary compensation. Owners would no longer be needed and the players would not need a form of government after the initial set up is complete because everybody in the league would be making enormous amounts of cash.
The Problem With The Interpretation – While I have only scratched the surface on the changes that would need to take place for communism to successfully work in the NBA, there are already multiple glaring issues with this change in league structure. Similar to why Communism did not succeed in the real world, some players would not be happy playing for the same amount of money as other players. Although everybody found on an NBA team is extremely talented and deserves to be on a team, star players that posses nearly super-human talent and dedicate unrealistic amounts of time to their craft deserve to be paid more money than other players in the league. This structure exists today as superstar players such as Carmelo Anthony are paid upwards of $20 Million Dollars per year while role players are paid significantly less. If a communist system were to be
implemented and everybody paid equally, there would be no motivation for star players to work extra hard and it can even be argued that star players would not exist at all. Without star players, many fans would no longer feel compelled to watch a team of mediocre players and the entire system would crumble with no fans watching the sports, buying tickets, and purchasing merchandise.
Do you believe the concepts behind communism could be making an appearance in the NBA any time soon?