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The NFL is a closed society.  You have to ante up half a billion dollars or more to join the club and own a franchise.  To be employed as one of the 1700 players, you have to be an exceptional physical specimen.  But the rewards for being either are significant.

The minimum salary for players is just under $500,000 per year.  The average salary is $2.1 million.  Sounds good, but the career is short.  NFL Players Association says the average career length is about 3.3 years. The NFL claims that the average career is about 6 years (for players who make a club’s opening day roster in their rookie season).  Of course the physical toll is great.  But imagine being 30 years old and already have earned a minimum of $3,000.000.

Based on its condominium style structure, each NFL team is immensely profitable.  Condominium?  Yes, each owner owns their franchise, but they share common revenues and expenses.  For each of the owners, it is like owning a ritzy condo.

How does socialism work?  The dictionary says:  the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.

So a single entity controls wages and production for the common good.  So is the NFL a condominium or socialism?

NFL wages are controlled by the governing group via salary cap which is negotiated with the players union.  So labour costs are mostly centrally controlled.  There is also a minimum wage and a limit on personnel numbers.  There is a cap on the total amount that can be spent for playing personnel.  Doesn’t sound like a free market to me.

Costs vary by market, depending on stadium deals, ticket sales and attendance.  But that isn’t a large slice of the pie.  The average team could make a profit if they didn’t sell one ticket to a game – at least in theory.  All teams make a handsome profit, although since all but the Green Bay Packers are privately owned and don’t reveal their financials, we don’t know how much.

All teams share equally on TV revenue, on merchandise – if you buy a Russell Wilson Seahawks shirt, Miami Dolphins get 1/32 of the royalty.  When a company declares it is the official XXX of the NFL, New England gets 1/32 of the royalty, and so do the last place Cardinals.  The same is true for expansion fees from a new team;  the Houston Texans, the last new team, paid $700 million to join in 2002.

The sharing is very egalitarian – no merit, no competition.  Very socialist.  Normally when the governing body of the group exercises this kind of control over competitors, it is a form of socialism or collusion.

Ia this natural for sports?  Not really.  In Europe, teams that don’t win get demoted to minor leagues which severely effects the value of your franchise.  Players are not limited by a salary cap and make, proportionately, more money if they are stars.

So it is just the hyper capitalistic North America that handles sports like socialists and the more social societies that don’t.  Curious.

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