League competition ruined by selfish players

By Thomas Geenen, Staff writer

In the past month, two of the NBA’s top ten players have packed their bags and moved to the bright lights on the East Coast, leaving the Rocky Mountains behind. Little do these players realize the destructive nature of their decisions.

Trading Carmelo Anthony from Denver to New York as well as Deron Williams from Utah to New Jersey are just two examples of the latest trend for athletes: heading towards bigger markets. This mass exodus effectively hurts the smaller-market organizations and unfairly tips the playing field in favor of wealthier teams.

LeBron James is responsible for the fleeing stars when he taunted teams and fans alike with his public free-agency debate last summer. His former team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, had drafted James out of high school in 2003, and its fans had embraced him ever since. After leaving Cleveland for Miami to play with other All-Star players, James’ public image plummeted.

According to Yahoo sports, young NBA stars often choose to leave after their three-year rookie contracts expire. Once the contract is up, players seek out teams that will give them a chance to win, unlike the bad teams that drafted them with lottery picks.

Following in James’ footsteps, high-profile NBA star Anthony practically begged to be shipped out of Denver. He got his wish and was traded to New York where he plays alongside fellow superstar Amar’e Stoudemire. Not only does Anthony have a chance to play on a bigger stage, but the Knicks did not have to sacrifice quality players in order to get him. Basically, the rich are getting richer in the NBA while the poor just sit back and watch the future of their organizations get dimmer.

Many argue that this shift of power to larger markets will restore the glory and interest in professional sports, but this is not the case. In the NBA, a few select teams monopolize the league by acquiring all this talent, while smaller franchises simply cannot compete both on and off the court. Fans of struggling, small-market teams are only interested when an elite team comes to town. James’ Heat squad has sold out almost every road game this year, boosting the home team’s revenue for that night only.

Since most of the exciting talent is concentrated within a few NBA teams, the rest of the fans have no reason to watch their hometown teams play on a nightly basis, causing these organizations to make virtually no profit.

Don’t think this is only happening in the NBA. The English Premiership, widely regarded as the most expensive professional soccer league in the world, has had its share of superstars leave smaller teams. Liverpool striker Andy Carroll was recently purchased for close 57 million dollars from Newcastle, a city with approximately 270,000 inhabitants.

According to thesun.co.uk, the transfer of Carroll gave Newcastle United a profit 35 times his estimated value, but his “17 goals in 39 matches” will be hard for the team to replace. In theory, Liverpool is the beneficiary because they acquired a high-scoring striker in the prime of his career from a potential competitor.

The bottom line is that this new fad of athletes departing from smaller-markets in search of bigger stages is destroying the structure of professional sports. The purpose of a league is to assemble quality teams that are capable of competing against each other. Unfortunately, the selfish acts of athletes and owners alike has compromised this purpose and done everything but level the playing field. The commissioners of each league should institute new rules preventing the exodus of star players. One idea would be that each team must have one All-Star or Pro-Bowler on the roster. This way there would be fewer discrepancies in today’s game and the fairness of pro sports would be renewed.