Here's who I feel sorry for in the National Basketball Association lockout, which officially began Friday: Nobody.
Even though the NBA just ended one of its more successful seasons, when judged against droll results in terms of television ratings and game attendance in the past decade, the league needs to reshape more than its players contracts.
That's the least of its problems.
Owners say players earn too much of the pie, and they do. Under the current agreement, the one that's up for negotiations resulting in the league's lockout, players collect 57 percent of the league revenue, while owners get 43 percent. Owners were foolish for agreeing to that before anyway, giving a majority of gross revenues to the players.
In the NBA, nobody comes running at you with 4.3 speed in the 40 yard dash, dressed in hard plastic armour, knocking you disoriented with a potentially paralyzing concussion like they do in the National Football League. Yet NBA players get a majority of the money, resulting in the highest salaries in all of professional sports.
Sure, most work hard for their money -- but they are compensated fairly, to say the least.
Owners also say too many teams are losing money, citing flat to declining revenues across the board, leaving a majority of the NBA's 30 franchises in a money-losing proposition. That's what they say, anyway.
Nobody can deny the NBA has many small market teams, from Oklahoma City to New Orleans, so making money as a league owner could be challenging in the future as the economy remains tight and sluggish.
But who cares?
Not me. Neither do most fans. According to several polls conducted, a majority of people who follow the NBA don't care about either the player's point of view or the owner's point of view. It's their problem -- if one can call either angle a real problem.
Try making either argument to those among America's nearly 10 percent unemployed and see where it goes.
No, the issue facing the NBA isn't which side is right. The issue facing the NBA is that most people don't care.
That's the NBA's biggest problem, and the one that needs addressing. For starters, the league has generally failed to ignite mass passion across the nation since the Larry Bird-Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan eras. Any observer could identify the problem, if they really thought about it.
Not only have player's salaries grown too big for the game, the players have grown too big for the game. The court is too small and the goal height needs to be raised.
The 10-foot goal wasn't designed for players who can jump high enough to be eyeball level with the rim. And, regulation size court wasn't designed for 6-foot-9 tall point guards, and 260-pound forwards. Watching an NBA game these days gives the appearance that adults are trying to play on a playground designed for small children.
Basketball is a game of movement based upon spacing, or it should be. In the NBA, spacing and thus active offense and defense became a nearly impossible task. Nobody can move too much, or there's not room for anybody to move.
Likewise, the goal should not be something most players can easily overpower. By raising the goal two feet, the NBA would create a game that would separate the proverbial men from the boys, changing the way it is played and the level to which fans engage with it.
That's why most regular NBA games are yawners. Everything about the game is too predictable. Fans don't get excited until the playoffs because they are bored.
But on a bigger court with higher goals, for instance, small guards might make a comeback, since spacing and movement might allow them to free for true jump shots, like the old days. Bigger players would have to move more. All 10 players on the court would have to move more. New players would emerge. So would new styles of coaching, whereas today there's almost no skill required in coaching an NBA team.
Until or unless the NBA addresses these problems, expanding the court and raising the goal, many like me aren't going to care if the league has a lockout or not or who wins the money battle, the players or the owners.
Until the league changes the way the game is played, the fans are the losers.