Money and sports make for a bad combination

    The sports world is definitely hanging on the hook of the business world. The people behind the scenes wouldn’t even think about putting two NBA conference finals games on at the same time or schedule the first pitch of the World Series when people in L.A. were still stuck in traffic. Even in golf, there are the made-for-TV gimmicks like the “”Battles”” or the publicity stunt of having a woman golfer put on a pair of pants and tee it up with the men on the PGA Tour (Annika deserves a standing O for her run, nonetheless).

    But those aren’t even the best examples. There’s a kid named LeBron James who has got the sports-business industry in his gym bag. Eighteen-year-old James just signed a deal with Nike worth over $90 million. This came after a bidding war between Michael Jordan’s company, Reebok and Adidas (Adidas even put up a billboard sign in James’ hometown, to persuade the soon-to-be Cavalier).

    But the let’s-make-money-on-LeBron tour started well before Nike gave James enough money to go to a five-star restaurant for lunch during the rest of his senior year at St. Vincent-St. Mary. It started years earlier when he was put on the cover of nationwide sports magazines that dubbed him the next Michael Jordan. The tour was a big reason why James and his team played games all over the country, and it made basketball fans pay to see St. Vincent-St. Mary play high school ball.

    And this is what Pete Bell said the world was coming to in the movie “”Blue Chips.”” The basketball head coach of the Western University Dolphins said that it has become everyone’s job to look in backyards to find the 15-year-old future stars and make sure that they make money on them.

    When his team couldn’t help but get blown out without a blue chip athlete, Bell realized that winning came with a price tag when the Dolphins’ outcomes changed after Bell went out and bought three recruits before the next year to help him knock off No. 1-ranked Indiana. (UCSD, apparently, has yet to realize what Bell did.)

    Maybe Bell’s team that was on the short end of most basketball games gave him more heart, but he got a few more wins from the team that had bigger wallets. And I’m sure Western enjoyed watching the Dolphins rack up big wins instead of watching their hearts being broken.

    Maybe business doesn’t mix well with sports, but it has become the factor of success for teams and the games. Money has spoiled the purity of athletes’ talents and it has turned many sporting events into auctions. But little can be done about it now, so will that be cash or charge for your next win?

    The columnist welcomes any e-mails about his points at

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