Managing Players by Sharing the Wealth

It's worth reading Brian Straus' solid article on the so-far underwhelming response by Major League Soccer (MLS) clubs to the designated-player rule, but there's an no less engaging question about player compensation snuck in as well. Here's that:

"Most teams elected to spread their money more equitably through the roster. Neither MLS Cup finalist fielded a player earning more than $200,000. But Houston featured the highest number of players pulling six figure base salaries (nine), while New England was tied for second with eight."

In spite of my appreciation for market mechanisms, there's a little socialist that lives somewhere behind my appendix (he kicks it frequently, which might be why it hurts so damn much) who tells me that there's something better about a "we're-all-in-this-together" ethos when you're trying to build something on limited resources. And while the international market justifies spending more, or even crazy, money on, say, a proven goal-scorer (arguably, Twellman for the Revs) or even a guy who can move season tickets (Beckham), I remain deeply paranoid about the impact of the Beckham rule for creating subtle, poisonous jealousies among MLS players living as much on their dreams as on a thin paycheck.

Sports economics is what it is, of course; a talent for putting the ball in the goal will always earn more than being one of the three or four guys trying to stop it from happening. But soccer teams field eleven players for any given game and they all play a role; how far can you go in rewarding one talent at the expense of the other?


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