1) I think unions are very good for sports. They should be able to get together and fight for things that they feel are important. For instance, without a players union, it is likely that retired players would not get the same benefits that they receive. That is an extremely important piece for players, as pro athletes often make close to 100% of their lifetime earnings in a short time span. Unions are also important as they are the ones who will take a stand on player safety issues. The owners may say they care about player safety, but they do not care at the same level as the players, who put their lives on the line every time they suit up.

2) No, I do not think that the government or any sort of outside influence should get involved other than a 3rd party mediator that we have seen in the two latest work stoppages in the NFL and the NHL. While lockouts and work stoppages are certainly unfortunate, sometimes they are necessary if either side feels as if the business aspect of the game just is not fair. Pro sports are a business after all, and the business aspects must be resolved so that both parties believe it is fair. Outside intervention would not always ensure a happy ending to these standoffs. They may ensure an ending, but it may not be one that both parties agree to, which could lead to further issues down the line.

3) I think the NHL, NBA, NFL model is by far the best model and one that should be adopted by the MLB. While the MLB, like the other sports has had good parity over recent years, small market teams in the current system cannot sustain their good years. The Oakland A's are a very good example of this, as they have not been able to keep many of their big stars over the years. The A's have been able to restock their system and remain competitive, but they did go through several losing seasons in order to get back to a high level once again. The MLB system allows all free agents to sign in large markets, where as in the other leagues, even small market teams can keep their own stars. Kevin Durant, probably the 2nd best basketball player in the world, plays in one of the smallest markets in pro sports in Oklahoma City and will likely play at the very least the majority of his career there. That is because the system in place allows OKC to pay him more money than any of the other teams in the league..

Do you feel player unions are good for professional sports?

I have mixed feelings about unions in general.  With respect to professional sports I believe they are good for the athletes.  I don’t necessarily think they are good for professional sports as a whole because of the ability to lockout or decertify.  Since there is so much money involved in professional sports, it is necessary for a union to protect the interests of the athletes.  As individuals they can’t protect their financial interest but by joining as a labor force they can.  I dislike the ability for players to be locked out or for them to strike.  The fans are hurt the most when management or the athletes do not show up to work.  The fans are footing the bill, the sponsors are contributing their resources, and the communities in which these teams play are hurt the most by labor strikes and lockouts.  When labor issues move beyond the management and athletes, if it affects the community I dislike the unions and feel they hurt professional sports. 


Should their be a higher voice when it comes to lock outs? Should the government get involved to force an agreement?

I think the commissioners of each league should have a good pulse on labor relations.  I believe they should be the higher authority when it comes to labor negotiations and lockouts or strikes.  The commissioner should be able to bring the parties together and get a deal done.  This past year we have seen how different leagues managed their labor relations.  The commissioners who sat back and allowed games to be canceled should be beside themselves for allowing that to happen.  I do not think the government should be involved in forcing agreements in professional sports labor relations.  The government can’t even balance their own budget, they don’t have time to be getting involved in private business affairs.


Which model do you feel is best for professional sports a salary cap (NFL, NBA, NHL) or luxury tax(MLB)?

I like the combination of the NBA cap system.  The use of a soft cap plus luxury tax allows an organization to work within the cap but if they go over they know the penalty.  Another provision I like from the NBA system is the “Larry Bird” exception that allows a team to exceed the cap to retain a player that was already with the team.  This allows a team to pay a little more to retain a player than losing him to free agency.  

This combination method is the best of both worlds.  Instead of a hard and fast cap like the NFL and NHL it allows the teams some flexibility while imposing a luxury tax should they exceed the cap.  This is also better than the MLB model of luxury tax only because it creates a guideline on salaries.  Teams like the New York Yankees are OK with paying the luxury tax because they know they can afford it.  The luxury tax has not prevented MLB teams in large markets from paying exorbitant sums of money to players.  I think if MLB adopted the NBA’s salary cap model there would be better distribution of talent throughout the league.

Mr. Cuban,
I have picked up a few books here and there, on how to be successful.  However, I never was able to finish them.  I would find myself bored with the material, but your stories reeled me in like no other.  Events, experiences, and advice that you went through, and talked about, really hit home for me.  I am a 26 year old, high school teacher.  Every day that I get up, and get ready for work, I just go through the motions.  I put forth the effort that is needed to make sure that my students are successful, but I do not find myself spending hours upon hours diving into my lesson planning.  Don’t get me wrong, I like to teach, but I just feel like it is not what I am meant to do for the rest of my life.  I find myself in the category of debt being my dream killer.  I am one of the lucky ones to have a teaching job that allows me to have a new car, insurance, my phone, and the ability to start paying off loans.  However, as lucky as I may be to have a job in education, I also feel that it is my sinker.  I simply cannot afford to just back out and try something new because of all of these bills that need to be paid.  I also feel that if I was to try and explore new fields, by leaving my job, I might not ever be able to have a steady, good paying job again.  I was curious as to what your advice would be to fellow educators, or people that are in the same situation as me?

Thanks for your time, and all of your eye opening advice in your blogs,
Alicia 

1.  I feel that player unions are good for professional sports.  A professional sport is a business and unions are essential for the fair treatment of players.  I see this as the sole purpose of unions in assuring that athletes are represented and treated fairly.  However, I see that unions can also be harmful when players abuse this power and refuse to work and cause a lockout for the sports fans.  Unfortunately the sports fans are the ones paying the price when salaries rise or a sport is locked out. 


2.  Their should not be a higher voice when it comes to lock outs.  By involving the government or other outside opinions you are bringing people into play who do not know much about the situation at hand.   

3. The NBA has a good model for salary cap because they do the best job creating an equal playing field.  They not only have a cap, but a floor as well where players are guaranteed a salary.  This allows teams to exceed their cap in order to hang on to veteran key players to the organization.  Finally, rookies and players are rewarded as they continue to succeed.  I see this as the fairest model as compared to other pro sport salary caps.

1)  Do you feel player unions are good for professional sports?
No matter what type of business or organization a person works for, they are always in need of a union.  Professional athletes are no different.  They too need to be fairly represented, so that they are not taken advantage of by the team, or franchise that they are a part of during each season, and throughout their career.  A player’s union is also good for the franchise because the franchise is able to see what it is that the player’s want, and are able to voice what it is that they want, which causes for both sides to try and reach a mutual agreement.  
2)  Should there be a higher voice when it comes to lock outs? Should the government get involved to force an agreement?
Sports have no involvement with the government, and it should continue to be that way.  For starters, the government has no input or association with professional sports, so it would not be beneficial to put them in a position to make rulings based on things they might not understand.  Secondly, our government has way more important things to focus on, than spending time trying to get entertainment, for the people, back on track. 
3)Which model do you feel is best for professional sports a salary cap (NFL, NBA, NHL) or luxury tax(MLB)?
I think that the salary cap is the best model for professional sports.  I feel that if teams were able to spend however much money they had, on players, the playing field would not be even for all teams.  I am not saying that ball clubs would all be horrible, but the fact of the matter is that some teams draw in more fans, which drive revenue up.  Whereas smaller teams, may have a lot of fans, but might never be able to generate much funds to put towards the upcoming seasons trades, or draft picks.  Therefore, I believe salary cap is the best model. 

Mr. Cuban,

I just finished reading your book, “How to Win at the Sport of Business” and it was great insight into your success as a businessman.  There were many points that I could relate to as a young person starting my career in sports business.  The three sections that resonated with me were: The Best Equity is Sweat Equity, It’s OK to Be a Whiner, and the WTF To-Do List.  

The past nine months I have worked for free at the Naval Academy Athletic Association and it has been the best job I have had yet.  I have been putting in the hard work and sweat equity to learn the base skills for facilities and operations in sports business.  I have also had the opportunity to learn first hand customer service skills while interacting with fans and evaluating our guest services contractors.  There is no better way to learn than to get in the trenches and actually do the work.

In my academic and professional career I have had similar experiences as you.  During school I wasn’t happy with the course requirements for my undergraduate degree so I found a way to substitute the classes I knew would benefit me the most.  I am always asking questions of why or how something is done, it may come across as whining but at the end of the day either myself or the group I’m working with has become better for me questioning our methods.  Like you pointed out, it’s not whining if changes and improvements are made.

Finally, the WTF To-Do List, I appreciated the most.  After spending two years working for my dream employer our coaching staff’s contracts were not renewed.  That’s the world of athletics, a new staff comes in and the old staff moves on.  It’s interesting to read this section because this is what I have been doing for the last year.  I didn’t know about it until this weekend, but it has been a near spitting image of the last 12 months.  I have been dabbling in different fields working jobs to gain experience and cover expenses, while pursing more education and learning anywhere I can.  I have also made contact with various administrators in college athletics speaking with them and spending time gaining an edge on my competition.  Bullet #5 on the to-do list is something I will add and start working towards.  I know I can have a better mindset starting my day.

I really appreciate you compiling these various stories and having them published.  I enjoyed the book tremendously and will use it as a guide as I take college athletics by the horns.  No Balls, No Babies.  Best of luck this offseason and with the upcoming NBA draft.

Thanks,

Ricky

Mark,

I just wanted to say that I truly enjoyed your book. As a young, professional woman just starting out in the athletic industry, it honestly helped me look at things a different way. 

Thank you so much.

-- 
Michelle Martinez
Compliance Officer
Department of Intercollegiate Athletics
316 PE Building
Cleveland State University
216-789-4219 (C)
216-687-4861 (O)
216-687-4845 (F)

Mark Cuban <mark@axs.tv>
Jan 14

to me, mark.cuban 
Good luck and keep Em honest!

1) Yes, I believe that player unions are good for professional sports.  They provide athletes with a easy way to come together and rally against the leagues/owners.

2) No, I don’t think the government should be involved in a lock out.  Sport is a business and should be able to run however they see fit.  The government only really gets involved in businesses when there the company files for bankruptcy, or something illegal is going on.  For a dispute, the businesses in sport should be able to fight it out themselves.

3) The NFL has the best salary cap model.  Because of the minimum and maximum caps, there can only be so many “franchise” players.  Also, there haven’t been as many repeats/higher tier clubs in football compared to the other Big Four.

Dear Mr. Cuban,
  I first picked up your E-book as an assignment for my professional sport class in my Master’s Program at Canisius College.  As an avid professional sports fan (especially basketball) and former professional athlete myself it was interesting to see your take on getting to the top.  I saw that there is not one traditional way to move up in the business of sports and sometimes things do not go as you planned.  One thought that you had, that I have to agree with is your focus on learning from your mistakes.  I too see mistakes as a learning opportunity as well.  
  I had many takeaways from the book.  First, working as a team and finding what it is that one can contribute to the group.  I am reminded that in business, not one person can do it all and we must work together to achieve greatness.  To find that one thing that we might master and contribute to the vision is key.  Next, your openness to learning new things and expanding your knowledge on a topic was reassuring for up and coming creative businessmen in the world of sports.  
    Your story is inspiring and uplifting for the little man who feels that he might never reach the top. When effort and hard work are consistent great things are bound to happen!
    Sincerely,

Turner Battle

1.  It depends on which perspective you are looking from.  If you are a player, unions are great.  They make sure owners are treating their players fairly and just.  If you are an owner, it limits how much control they have over the player.  Unions are good for professional sports because it is the player that is performing on the field/court/ice.  They are the ones that put in the hard work that it takes to perform at a high level.  They deserve to be treated to the highest of standards.

2.  Lockouts should be handled internally by the league.  Owners and the player representatives should be able to come to an agreement and should be able to come up with a CBA that would benefit both parties.  There is no reason to involve the government.  As soon as the government gets involved they will try to gain more and more control which would be unnecessary.

3.  The salary cap allows small market teams a chance to be competitive across the league, which I think is great for the league because fans will be a lot more interested in the games.  This will allow popularity with fans and allow for big crowds in the stadiums and increased in television viewers.  Although the luxury tax keeps big market teams from over spending, some will over spend (more than once) in order to be more competetative.  This model does not help smaller market teams.  Which in turn hurts their fan base and hurts the league. 
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