The power of modern athletes

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Do they have too much?

From college football players to LeBron James, we have seen athletes play their cards to influence those around them at extreme levels. With the amount of money that major collegiate and professional sports bring in, the overseers feel the need to acquiesce the athletes’ every request.

This season in the NBA, we watched the Cleveland Cavaliers fire coach David Blatt amid reports that LeBron James was never a fan of how Blatt operated things in Cleveland. James personally denied every report that Blatt was fired at his request, but his body language on the court showed otherwise. The NBA has also seen two offseasons where teams have dumped players to create massive amounts of salary cap room in hopes of luring James to play for them, only to be disappointed and have a subpar product on the court the next season.

In November, students at the University of Missouri were protesting racial injustice around campus, including one student on a hunger strike. The story gained national traction when the university’s football team threatened to sit out their next game against BYU if the university president wasn’t fired or resigned. Missouri was set to pay BYU $1 million for the game and would forfeit the amount if the game wasn’t played. Five days before the date of the game, the school’s president and chancellor stepped down and the game was played.

I understand not every player has the leverage of a LeBron James; he is one of the best players in the world—yes, I said “one of”—but he also brings in a tremendous amount of money to the Cavs and the city of Cleveland.

MLB players have been demanding outrageous contracts since Alex Rodriguez was lured to the Texas Rangers from the Seattle Mariners after the 2000 season. Players claim “market value” but in reality they have gained the power to sit back and wait for a team to call and offer $300 million over 10 years.

Professional and student athletes have gained an outrageous amount of power, but it’s because of the revenue they bring into their organizations. Live TV rights and advertising have become the golden eggs of sports entertainment revenue and the athletes are the geese laying the eggs. As long as the cash is flowing like Niagara Falls, athletes will continue to have the majority of power in the industry.

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