Money makes sporting world go round

Billions spent on free agency for professional athletes

Anyone fretting about some sort of retreat from capitalism in North America can concentrate on pro sports, and just relax. The Ancient Regime is not going anywhere anytime soon.

With all the playoffs over, except the women’s soccer World Cup, the only thing all these, “athletics,” organizations and their minions and fans seem interested in is capital.

Who will pay whom how much to play games is the only question on anybody’s mind, at least anybody interested in the athletic subject involved, these days.

The NBA free agency period produced more than five billion dollars in contractual obligations, just over the next five or less seasons for the payer and payees, in just two days. NHL results have been smaller, because the revenues there are smaller, but teams have promised at least half a billion in wage payouts over the next one to eight years.

And, there will be more, much more, to come over the next few days.

Kawhi Leonard, the King of ‘We The North’, has yet to settle with a team, or an an amount, that he will accept for his undoubted basketball prowess. He will easily, if he chooses, be guaranteed $200 million over the next five years, on top, of course, of the probably billion more in promotion and advertising fees he can earn. The Kawhi watch fever is so great, television yesterday, and not just sport channels, broadcast a live, OJSimpson the fugitive -esque, watch of the plane and SUV carrying him into Toronto for a meeting with the Raptors.

Still a lot of bright but lesser basketball lights to get their props, too.

In hockey, the competition for players, even those restricted by labour agreement rules, has been fairly fierce, as well. The biggest remaining fish there is probably Mitch Marner of the Maple Leafs. The 22 year old was the Leaf’s top point getter last season, and wants commensurate pay.

That would mean around $85 million over the next seven years, and even more if the deal is longer. Similar, of course, to what top goal-scoring teammate Austin Mathews makes. More, in fact, than superstar John Tavares, acquired just last season, makes on an annual average value basis.

If Marner gets his druthers that would mean more than 35 per cent of the salary cap allowed to ice a 20-25 players team would be tied up, long term, in just three Toronto players. Not sure how you build a competitive team around such a top heavy fund-sucking group, but that is the monetary world of sports.

If you think that is a bit eye-popping, consider that Leonard, if he decides to risk injury and go for a lucrative two-year deal somewhere, will be eligible, as a 10-year NBA vet, to receive 35 per cent of a team’s entire payroll, all by himself, two seasons from now.

Capitalism is, it is plain to see, alive and well in North America, and the rest of the free world, and in some limited instances in supposedly, “socialist,” and, “communist,” autocracies, too.

Back to that World Cup. Despite their undoubted arrogance, the U.S. Woman’s National Team will, because of financial considerations, be receiving support from most other female teams in the final, and not because they are well liked, “Ugly Americans,” so to speak.

You see, the USWNT is fighting an ongoing battle with governments and the U.S. Soccer Federation for, you guessed it, a lot more money for the players – at least as much as the much better men’s team that produces inferior competitive results.

Another World Cup win by the American women would strongly bolster their case for receiving more money, which would improve the odds of women in other nations receiving more money in efforts to keep up with the Americans on at least the player development side.

Funny old money old world we live in, isn’t it.

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