The Milwaukee Bucks and the rest of the NBA are now four days into a lockout that is expected to last months. Discussions between the two sides will not begin again for another pair of weeks while the problems simmer. Though each work stoppage owns its own unique sets of circumstances, there’s one question that always comes up in all professional sports lockouts/strikes, whether they be in the NFL, NHL, MLB, or NBA.
“Can the players just bypass the owners altogether and form a separate league?”
In a word? No. No, they can’t. They don’t have sufficient capital to do it themselves. And if they look elsewhere, finding investors/cities/arenas would prove to be too big a challenge. The organizational structure required to pull off this maneuver falls beyond what any subset of a league’s players could produce.
So why does this question arise so often when the answer is transparent? Because the players have a ridiculously small amount of leverage. They are salaried employees possessing one skillset that only a single employer values. When that employer no longer desires their services, the employees’ only option is to create new jobs where there weren’t any before. And as outlined above, that’s not an easy feat.
That is, unless you’re a basketball player. Basketball players possess three advantages over their athletic peers in this situation.
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