|Moral Lessons From the Salary Cap
by Daniel Collins-Cavanaugh, Prince George’s Community College
In this presentation, I explore some of the moral lessons I believe can be taken from the salary caps in the NFL and NBA. In terms of the leagues themselves, I believe salary caps do the following, all of which are morally significant: they ensure that a certain percentage of the revenue from the league will go to the primary workers (the players), they keep more franchises in business, which keeps prices lower for fans and offers more fans a local fan experience, and they keep wages for players higher on average than they would likely be otherwise. Interestingly, I don’t find evidence that salary caps make leagues fairer in terms of competition between the teams (which is the typical moral argument made on their behalf).
I then argue that these lessons ought to be applied to society at large. That is, I believe society would do better if it adopted some of the practices contained within the NFL and NBA salary caps on a wide level, including designating a certain minimum revenue from large industries to the workforce of those industries, and doing more to foster adequate competition within industries, which in turn would mean higher average wages for those laborers in those industries. Although such moves would mean lower profits for the shareholders of those industries, I believe they would lead to an overall greater social utility – as they have in the NFL and the NBA.