Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The NBA Lockout and Financially Replaceable Relationships

Guest blog by a personal friend of the Head Penny-Pincher

This is a tough time for me as an avid basketball fan. The first two weeks of the 2011-2012 National Basketball Association season have been cancelled, and the entire season is at risk, as team owners and the players’ union struggle to arrive at a new collective bargaining agreement that will dictate how they divvy up league revenues. In the midst of my basketball withdrawals, some forms of help are available. For example, NBATV has been broadcasting classic games from previous decades. Then again, the daisy dukes worn by pre-90's ballplayers have a limiting effect on how much of those games I can watch.

Unfortunately, though, some people are facing more serious challenges as a result of the current NBA lockout. For many arena employees (custodians, security officers, and food vendors, for example), NBA games can be an important source of income. The cancellation of even part of the basketball season makes it that much more difficult for these arena workers to provide for their families.

This got me thinking about the financial relationships involved in the dispute between the league’s owners and players. For instance, while the two sides have their differences, they’re ultimately indispensable to one another’s success (and, thus, will likely get a deal done eventually). Just as the players can’t expect the current owners to sell their teams off to a bunch of union-friendly billionaires*, the owners can’t expect to replace Kobe Bryant and Lebron James with me and Joe Schmoe and still sell tickets.

That touches on another financial relationship involved in the lockout: the relationship the owners and players have with NBA fans. To the extent that the current lockout disenfranchises the fans, it will be more difficult for owners and players to sell tickets (and reap revenues) when games resume. In this way, the fans are also irreplaceable to the league.

Then there are the arena workers. If they can’t wait out the cancelled games, others will be in line to take their place. Sadly for them, the arena workers are replaceable.

What does this have to do with us and our personal finances? The better we understand our own financial relationships with respect to replaceability, the better equipped we are to make sound financial decisions, decisions that line up with our personal financial values. Some examples:

- Does your employer view you as replaceable? If so, are there any professional certifications you could pursue to make yourself more irreplaceable to your company? Do you have the opportunity to take on any long-term projects that would be difficult for your employer to pass on to someone else if you were laid off?

- Is your employer replaceable to you? That may seem like an absurd question in the context of our current economy, but it has proven relevant to my own experience. I’m in the process of leaving one of my part-time jobs**, because the schedule and commute are no longer a good fit for me. When I discovered that I would be able to return to a former part-time job that is a good for me, the job I'm now leaving became replaceable, and that realization has helped me to make a positive change in my work-life.

- What about the financial institutions in your life? If your bank has recently introduced a $5 per month debit-card fee***, has it become replaceable to you? Do you use a financial planner? Does he or she view you as replaceable, focusing more of his/her attention on wealthier clients? If so, are you content enough to stay, or dissatisfied enough to find a new planner?

- Lastly, how does this issue affect the establishments you patronize? Who views you as more irreplaceable: McDonald’s, or the local burger place up the street? Is there a corresponding difference in quality and service?**** Whom do you view as more irreplaceable in terms of cost, job-creation, community contribution, etc.? Being clear on your financial values, whatever they are, will help you make more satisfying purchases.

In the comments section, how is the replaceability factor affecting your financial relationships? Are you intentional in incorporating these issues into your financial decisions?

*Wherever such a bunch of billionaires may be, I’m sure there are unicorn-riding leprechauns nearby.

**Oops! Now they know.

***Just, you know, hypothetically.

***Note: Local businesses do not always offer better service. See “Soup Nazi, The”.

Photo by Zawezome

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