Bouncing Around …

The NFL has put Mychal Kendricks on indefinite suspension after he entered a guilty plea to chargers of insider trading.  To put a perspective on this, insider trading is what put Martha Stewart in the slammer for a short period of time about 10 years ago.  From that perspective, I can see why the NFL would not want Kendricks on the field as part of their TV product; he just admitted that he did something that put another widely known TV celebrity on the shelf.  In addition, it is important to recognize that despite all of the coach-speak and player-platitudes that you hear, at its core, the NFL is television programming.

The irony here is that Kendricks’ suspension by the NFL has already exceeded the suspension handed down to Ray Rice.  While not trying in any way to condone insider trading, I sorta think that what Ray Rice did – on video tape so there is no real debate about it – is worse than what Mychal Kendricks did.  Oh well …

The thing about this indefinite suspension is that it may become a de facto lifetime suspension.  Kendricks will be sentenced to a prison term in January 2019; the length of that sentence is obviously unknown.  However, if he remains “indefinitely suspended” for the balance of 2018 and is then sentenced to 24 months in prison in January 2019, it may be the end of his career.  That would make him 30 years old when he finished such a sentence (remember, this is hypothetical) and making a comeback as an NFL linebacker at that age would not be trivial.

Since Kendricks was a member of the Seattle Seahawks prior to this suspension, it is not surprising that Dwight Perry had an observation about the situation in the Seattle Times:

“Seahawks linebacker Mychal Kendricks has been suspended indefinitely after pleading guilty to illegal stock-market moves.

“Coincidence?  ESPN’s NFL Insiders got the scoop.”

WNBA President, Lisa Borders, resigned that position to take the job as the CEO of a new organization called Time’s Up.  This entity seeks to represent women and advocate for women who face discrimination and harassment in the workplace and in their careers.  Time’s Up is pretty clearly an outgrowth/extension of the Me-Too Movement.

I guess Ms. Borders is a good choice for this new position given that she has run an organization dominated by women in the recent past.  However, I would pump the brakes before I went so far as to say that this selection is a shortcut to success for Time’s Up.  Consider:

  • Ms. Borders has been with the WNBA as its President for 3 years.  Is it fair to say that the WNBA has not exploded onto the sports scene during her time at the tiller?
  • The WNBA has been in existence for more than 20 years and it is just now beginning to achieve “niche-sports” status.  Is it fair to ask someone to point to two accomplishments identified with Ms. Borders that have put the WNBA on a better footing than it had before her?

Since I would choose to align myself with the goals and objectives of Time’s Up, I hope that this hiring decision bears fruit down the road.  As of now, there has been no indication as to who might replace Ms. Borders at the WNBA.  However, we should know that the WNBA is headed for some dicey negotiations whenever the next CBA is on the table.

  • The maximum salary in the WNBA is $115K.  Minimum salary for a rookie in the NBA is $823K.  That means if a WNBA team started 5 players all making the league maximum, that starting-five would earn less than the rookie NBA players sitting at the end of the bench.  That should be an interesting point of discussion…
  • Recalling that WNBA maximum salary of $115K, the entry level pay for an NBA official is $150K.  As the saying goes, no one buys a ticket or tunes into a game to see the officials.  Draw your own conclusions here.

Obviously, the NBA pays more because it takes in much more revenue.  I do not have the latest figures, but the last time I checked the figures the WNBA revenues were about 1% of the NBA revenues.  But the difference in revenue generation is only the starting point for the wide discrepancy here.  If I read the NBA CBA and the WNBA CBA correctly, the NBA funnels about 50% of the revenue to the players in the form of salaries/benefits while the WNBA allocates about 30% of its revenue to that end.  Whoever takes the WNBA job is going to find some headwinds when it comes to getting a new agreement.

The current CBA will expire in 2021, but the players association can opt out of the agreement this year with the aim of getting a new deal before this one expires.  Looking at that landscape, I think Lisa Borders made a very savvy career move with her decision to change jobs…

Pardon me, but I need to vent here.  We are only about a third of the way through the football season and I have reached my limit on something that TV announcers say far too often.  There is no such thing as a “very unique” offense or defense; in fact, nothing in the universe is “very unique”.  Everything and anything are either “unique”, or they are “not unique”.  There are no gradations there.

  • Memo to TV announcers:  Please replace “very unique” in your vocabulary with something that makes sense such as “highly unusual” or “very different”.

Finally, here is a WNBA related comment from Greg Cote in the Miami Herald:

“Seattle throws a championship parade Sunday to celebrate the Storm’s third WNBA title. It also is the third for star Sue Bird, now established as the second-best Bird ever to play basketball.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports…….



2 thoughts on “Bouncing Around …”

  1. I am not sure if Houdini could make the barriers in front of the WNBA disappear. Lisa Borders is a really smart woman who probably did as much as anyone could in her role as the face of the WNBA. But, women’s basketball on every level of competition is in the same place. There is simply far less interest in the sport than there is in men’s basketball.

    I read that the average attendance at WNBA games is just below 8,000. It’s 18,000 in the NBA. According to Forbes the average ticket price at WNBA games is less than $17. At NBA games it’s $89. You do not have to have an advanced math degree to see the huge revenue disparity. You can compute the revenue for a season by multiplying the average ticket price x average attendance x 17 (the number of home games for each team). That means the teams generate $2.3 million per year from their own operations. According to Forbes they get another $2 million per team from ESPN. The Atlanta Hawks, whose payroll is near the NBA bottom, have six players on their roster with salaries above the average total revenue for a WNBA team.

    1. Doug:

      In addition to the disparities in attendance and cost per ticket, there are humongous differences in terms of TV contract revenues and in sales of licensed team gear. I agree that no one could close out those differences in anything short of a geological era. However, I cannot point to anything that has happened on her watch at the WNBA that has been so laudatory that it might be called a “signature event”.

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