What is fair?

When I read players and agents tweets saying that all they want is a fair deal, I always think about the first book on negotiations I read when I was kid. It basically said that fairness is entirely in the eye of the beholder. What is fair to you is not necessarily fair to me. Here are examples of what basically is being said by both sides:

  • It’s not fair to ask players to take a significant pay cut compare to what they make now
  • It’s not fair that 2/3rds of team owners lose money just to remain competitive
  • It’s not fair that players can’t make as much as what the owners are willing to pay
  • It’s not fair that owners take all the business risks such as building arenas and market development
  • It’s not fair that owners choose to sign players to large contracts and then ask for that money back
  • It’s not fair for the owners to want to change the agreement they themselves mandated in 2004

Without context, each statement seems quite reasonable, however, there is a lot more to the equation than any individual points perspective. Each of these arguments as to what is or isn’t fair can be argued either way and is basically a meaningless conversation. What matters is getting agreement on what everyone is solving for (parity vs. profitability) as opposed to who is being fair or not.

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