Texas A&M University-Kingsville

MOMENT WITH AN EXPERT: Professional Sports: Bought vs. Built

KINGSVILLE - June 17, 2014

Contact: Adriana Garza-Flores
adriana.garza@tamuk.edu or 361-593-4979

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Dr. Bruce Lund is an assistant professor in the Department of Health & Kinesiology and coordinator of the Sports Business Program at Texas A&M University-Kingsville. Here he discusses “bought vs” built” strategies in professional sports management.

Q. Much has been said about the "bought vs. built" strategies in professional sports in the wake of the NBA Championships. Please describe each and discuss the pros and cons of each. Is one strategy more successful than the other? If so, how/why?

A. Naturally, as fans, we would like to see teams with homegrown talent win championships. The Heat are an easy team to root against with the "Big 3" (LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh)and LeBron's "decision" (the televised announcement of the NBA team he would be playing for) but the bought vs. built argument is one that has been going on for quite some time. We just have not seen it at the magnitude of the game's best player leaving in the prime of his career to join another team filled with superstars like we did with LeBron. But, this is a trend that has become more and more prevalent today, and something we will continue to see moving forward.

A team like the Spurs were an easy team to root for, considering each of those players has been in the organization for so long, and some have even taken less money to be able to be a part of the organization. This is an argument that will continue to be relevant and, as sports fans, will further fuel the fire for which teams we root for and against as fans. The NBA, without this type of drama or story lines, would be missing out on the buzz these "decisions" have made for their league.

Q. What do you think the role of each approach will be in the future of the NBA and professional sports in general?

A. As for the future of the NBA, and other leagues, as long as there are salary caps in place then teams will only be able to do so much in "buying" talent and championships. I think it is important to note that teams buying players in free agency is nothing new and has been going on for as long as free agency has occurred. Baseball continues to be the only sport without a salary cap, but we have seen recently that money does not buy championships. Strong organizations from top to bottom do.

 In baseball, the Cardinals are an organization whose payroll is in the top third each year but they are usually below the Red Sox and the Yankees of the world. It really does take a team effort with great management and players knowing their roles for traditionally strong championship cultures to be built. As long as teams like the Spurs, Cardinals and Patriots have great leadership and culture, they will continue to be successful. This is true for any business that has prolonged sustainability.


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