Olympic Economics

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban explains why players on his team won’t be participating in this summer’s Olympics:

When the NBA was broadcast on NBC, it was far less of an issue. With NBC as the home of the Olympics and the NBA broadcast partner, there were a ton of cross promotional and selling opportunities. NBC could promote the Olympics in NBA games, and promote the NBA in the Olympics broadcasts. NBC could require advertisers to buy NBA advertising in order to get Olympic advertising,or vice versa. There were untold win – win scenarios by having both the Olympics and the NBA together at NBC.

That obviously is not longer the case. The NBA is now on ESPN/ABC and TNT. They are paying us a lot of money in a deal that has been working well for all invovled. What in the world are we doing helping our partners competition ? Why are we giving our most valuable manpower to a huge business, the Olympics so they can try to take revenue away from the NBA and our partners ?

He’s absolutely correct.

In the olden says, say, 1988 or so, things were different. The Olympics was ostensibly a competition among amateur athletes. There was a Cold War on and watching our guys try to win more medals than the godless commie pinko Rooskies was exciting. Now, there’s no longer any pretense of pure competition. The Olympics is a business. The NBA is a business. And, as Cuban details in the remainder of the post, the IOC and NBC get a lot more out of the deal than the NBA and ABC.

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business, , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. mark says:

    This is the first time I heard Cuban make the case this way. I always heard him (and he mentions it in his post) argue he did not want to risk a potential serious injury to a high-contract player.

  2. James Joyner says:

    He makes that argument as well in the post. And he’s absolutely right on that one, too.

  3. Kate says:

    I wish we could return the Olympics to their roots – naked, sweaty men running around in the sun….

  4. Boyd says:

    Well, Kate, since the Olympics are coed now, I can’t say I disagree with you on that one.

  5. While I understand Cuban’s reasons, he comes off sounding like he owns his players. Suppose Steve Nash really wants to play for Canada in Greece. Cuban actually has the balls to tell him he can’t represent his country?

  6. James Joyner says:

    Nash makes, what, several million a year? He’ll get over it. Or he can take a year off and be an amateur.