Whose Opinion Really Matters in Professional Sports?

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Who really makes the Sports world go round?

This time on From the Sidelines we’re going to address an interesting hypothetical that people don’t often think about in the sporting world: If a professional sporting organization (like the NBA or MLB) wanted to change the rules of the games that professional athletes play in, whose opinion should the organization give more weight to when considering whether a change should be inputted - those members of the general public who make up their fanbases, or the players/organizational staff involved in organization itself?

Take, for example, the debate over whether a four-point line should be added to NBA basketball games; Whose opinion on the topic should inform the NBA’s decision more, the opinions of organizational staff and players, or the general fanbase who isn’t involved in the organization at all?

Some may argue that we should turn to those involved in the organization, especially players. Reasons for this may be that it is the athletes themselves who are experts in the sport and the NBA should thus rely on their expertise in deciding on whether or not a given change is a good idea, both in terms of ensuring the game is still competitive as well as preserving the health of those actually playing.

So, in the context of the four-point line, some would argue it would be best to ask Steph Curry or Damian Lillard. Thus, much in the same way we turn to experts when implementing social change, so to should professional sports organizations give more weight to the opinions of those involved in their organizations, especially those who live and breath the sport because they are the experts and probably know what is best for the game.

Of course, many may argue that fans’ opinions should have more weight.

Those who would argue that fans’ opinions should have more weight may use an economic based argument. Many would argue that because it is the fans who pay to see the games, buy merchandise, and are the reason as to why various organizations sponsor sporting organizations, that sporting organizations should care more about what the populous wants.

Without a fanbase pumping revenue into these sporting organizations, they would not be able to operate at the level that so many do now, if not go extinct entirely. Thus, because the general populous of fans are ultimately the reason as to why these professional sporting organizations exist altogether, what they do and do not want in a game, some may argue, should therefore have more weight.

Both sides make convincing arguments, but regardless of who is right it makes for an interesting conversation about who truly has ownership of professional sports and how they are played, those involved in professional organizations, or their general fans? Is it the people who plow away everyday and make a living from the game who truly own the game, or the people who spend their time and more importantly their money who truly own the game?

Tell us at the Sports Rooster what you think!