Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Cuban, Quit Being a Huge Douche-Bag

Mark Cuban made the unfortunate mistake of running his pie-hole to the Dallas Morning News: Here's what Cuban said.
It's not that I don't like the idea of them representing their countries. If the Olympics were truly a nationalistic endeavor built on sport and part of the public domain, I would be willing to take risk and support their playing. What I don't like is that we lie to ourselves and pretend that the Olympians represent our country. They don't. They have taken relatively low paying jobs working for the Olympics, who in turn sell the broadcast and marketing rights for billions of dollars in profits, all the while creating enormous risk for those of us who pay them for their day jobs that
support their families. It's amazing how players who are free agents won't
participate, but those with guaranteed contracts will. I hate the fact that we
lie to ourselves and pretend this is about representing country. It's not. It's about money.

Really Mark? It's all about the money? Tell that to the athletes participating in swimming, or rowing, or kayaking, or gymnastics, or weightlifting, or the field events, or the scores of other Olympic sports that yield essentially no shot at stardom or endorsement? Maybe you ask them why they train so hard, for so long. Is it all about the paltry bonus money they get from the USOC? Is it about the 5 minute spot they get on Good Morning America the day after? Why do so many athletes cry when they see their country's flag raised to the rafters? Are those the tears of joy at the prospect of financial freedom?

So Jason Kidd and Dirk Nowitzki rely on your paychecks to them to support their families? Maybe Latrell Sprewell is right - he does need a multi-million dollar contract to put food on the table. I'm sure that both Dirk and Kidd can not take another cent from you and support their families just fine. But what you should be more concerned about are those vendors, concessionaires and stadium workers at Americas Airlines Arena who are worried about how to pay the gas bill driving to work for their wages, and how to put food on the table for their families - before you grow concerned about the "enormous risk" of Dirk and Kidd playing basketball in the offseason. (What, you'd rather the two of them sit on the couch and watch Oprah all summer?)

You should be ashamed of yourself Mark - sometimes it helps to run your words through that filter called your brain before letting it out. Or maybe that is the problem.


Head Dude said...

Actually Dude, I think his point is well-taken in some respects. It's true that the Olympics is viewed by corporate America as a huge cash cow, particularly for NBC and its main sponsors. It's also true that NBA stars signed to long-term guaranteed contracts can play without any risk of losing money if they get hurt -- you think they'd all be willing to play if they might be risking $60 million? Ilgauskas wasn't. Would Kidd be willing to risk $20 million this year? I suspect not. What about Ginobili and his recurring injuries getting no rest this summer? It's the NBA owners who are insuring the Olympic teams, and perhaps the system needs to be changed when you're allowing multi-million dollar pro athletes to participate.
As for the other sports, I agree with you that many athletes in many sports are just competing to fulfill a dream, though I think in some sports like gymnastics and figure-skating many hope that a successful performance can lead to a lucrative career either in endorsements or national tours.
So I think Cuban may have overgeneralized that all of the Olympics is about money, when it's not, but his point about NBA players is true. I don't know the solution, other than to include clauses in contracts that injuries suffered in international competition will void the contract, but that would take an agreement among owners that might border on collusion.

The Dude said...

May have overgeneralized? it was a gross overgeneralization which he did not caveat whatsoever... And what percentage of gymnasts or swimmers do you think can actually parlay their success into a lucrative career? No male gymnast gets that; there's been 2 female gymnasts who have achieved any degree of notoriety: Mary Lou Retton and Carly Patterson, and they've had to win the All-Around to do it. The single most iconic image of an American gymnast at the Olympics is Kerri Strug nailing the vault on one leg, and she has no endorsements... 99% of the other athletes are performing for themselves and their country. Frankly, I'm not concerned about NBA owners risking their money - they are billionaires who purchased the teams (often-times as the ultimate status symbol). That they have to accept some risk so that one or two of their players can represent the country, that's fine be me. If Mark Cuban doesn't want to accept that risk, there's a very simple solution - he can sell the team.

Head Dude said...

Actually, having (sigh) been to both an ice skating and gymnastics show following an Olympic year, and knowing a family friend who is cousins with Kerri Strug, I can tell you that more than you think are able to make a living off of their performance. You're right that it is still the exception, but the percentage is a little higher than you might assume.
Cuban's point is why do the owners have to accept the risk. Why isn't it the players, or the league?
You're right that 99% of athletes are competing for themselves and their country, but I don't equate a shot-putter getting to live his dream with NBA players who are happy to play so long as they incur no risk to themselves. Obviously Kerri Strug wasn't concerned with that when she dismounted on a broken ankle. Interestingly enough, it's the foreign NBA players (like Ginobili and Dirk) who actually do want to compete solely based on love of country, but it should probably be a risk-sharing enterprise.

The Dude said...

Ownership of an NBA team is the ultimate opt-in enterprise... If the billionaire owners did not want to accept the conditions, there's an easy way to remedy it. I don't have a problem with the risk being distributed the way it was - and Cuban could have made the point without denigrating 99.9% of Olympic athletes and embarassing himself.

Head Dude said...

Dude, I think you're forgetting one thing -- Dirk Nowitzki works for Mark Cuban. He is Mark Cuban's employee. If this was any other profession, Mark Cuban would ban him from playing in the Olympics, but he effectively can't here. Anyone who owns a company is opting to own it, and the fact he's rich is irrelevant. You seem to suggest that because he's a billionaire, he should keep his mouth shut on an issue of concern, but it's not really even about the money to Cuban. It's the fact that if Dirk blows out his knee in the Olympics, the Mavericks are a lottery team and there's nothing he can do about it. The fact he also would have to pay Dirk $18 million/year just adds insult to injury.
Again, I don't know what the equitable solution is, but his point isn't that remarkable (excluding the overgeneralization -- he should've clarified that his comments were related only to men's basketball, which indeed is a glorified cash cow).

The Dude said...

(1) I don't think whether the Mavericks will wind up in the lottery next year depends on if Dirk is healthy;
(2) Cuban clearly did not think he was just talking about men's basketball players, as a package of just the men's basketball games at the Olympics would not generated "marketing rights for billions of dollars in profits."
(3) Cuban's concern is clearly about the money - "all the while creating enormous risk for those of us who pay them for their day jobs." That risk was built in to the contract when Cuban negotiated the contract with Nowitzki's agent.

Cuban is a loser.

Head Dude said...

Dude, I don't have the energy to do it, but I believe I could search back through the DudeSpin archives and find several entries of you praising him. Methinks calling him a loser is a tad overreactive.

Big Daddy said...

Ahh how I have missed these tete-a-tetes between the Head Dude and Dude. You know what else I've missed? VP Profiles's. I appreciate you waiting until I was back home so that I could read from the comfort of my own computer, but now that I have returned I expect to see them soon.

After all, " *the Veepstakes profiles will return tomorrow.",
tomorrow just seems so long ago.