LeBron James + Big Business

August 12, 2010 | Christina

Comments (1)

I am an avid basketball fan.  I remember cheering for Tracy McGrady and Vince Carter when they played for the Toronto Raptors at the Air Canada Centre.  I always hoped that they would stay in Toronto and build a championship team here. 

After they were gone, Chris Bosh took over the role as the team's all-star.  He too has recently left the Toronto Raptors.  Although I am sorry to see Chris Bosh leave the team, I can understand his decision.   

LeBron James, similar to Chris Bosh, announced his decision to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team on Thursday, July 8th. 

These recent events have reminded me that sports at the professional level is indeed "big business".

According to an article by Omar El Akkad entitled "The World according to LeBron" published in The Globe and Mail on July 9, 2010, LeBron James's decision had far-reaching consequences.  

Omar El Akkad states "the hiring of one player moved billions of dollars, generated unprecedented media attention and directly impacted the livelihoods of thousands of people.  For more than two years, businesses ranging from Nike to ESPN to about six different NBA teams have prepared for one man's career decision."

The article further states "James's employment spectacle has cemented the concept of athlete as industry...According to the New York Daily News, the city's Economic Development Corporation conducted a study that estimated a James move to the Big Apple would generate about $58-million U.S. in new spending, as tourists and fans flocked to see the two-time most valuable player.  In Chicago, one economist pegged the potential James impact at almost $3-billion."

The article concludes "the biggest driver of the LeBron industry won't be found on the court.  James is believed to earn about $43-million a year - the majority of that from sponsorships and deals with firms ranging from Nike to State Farm to Vitamin Water."

Although professional sports and their teams are "big business", I understand why people continue to attend games although their favourite players may leave for another team.  It's great fun to watch the best athletes in any sport compete.   


For more information on Sports as "big business", check out the following titles at the Toronto Public Library:

Horrow, Richard B. and Karla Swatek.  Beyond the Box Score : An Insider's Guide to the $750 Billion Business of Sports.  New York : Morgan James Pub., 2010.

Leeds, Michael A. and Peter Von Allmen.  The Economics of Sports.  3rd Ed.  Boston : Pearson/Addison Wesley, 2008.

Szymanski, Stefan.  Playbooks and Checkbooks : An Introduction to the Economics of Modern Sports.  Princeton : Princeton University Press, 2009.