Blocked in China

At 7’6”, Yao Ming wasn’t frequently blocked during his Hall of Fame NBA profession. But Chinese politics are a different element, as Yao learned this week when the state-owned CBA (China Basketball Association) rebuffed the superstar’s effort to take the league private and remodel it in the image of the prosperous NBA.

Yao’s bid was definitely worth a shot. This past year, the NBA signed a $700 million deal to its programming in China — its most rewarding digital partnership anywhere on earth.

His failure speaks volumes not just about sports, but about the difficulty of reform in China. The fact that Yao — one of China’s most famous and numerous beloved figures — still couldn’t overcome the league’s fight doesn’t bode well for other efforts to loosen the state’s grasp on the market.

Steel and Sports do have something in common: As proxies for national greatness, they’ve both been seen in modern China. China established the CBA in 1994, after viewing the dominant, picture-enhancing success of the U.S. As a state venture. Nevertheless, the league was hobbled in the beginning. As an alternative to scouting the urban playgrounds of China, where some of the finest hoops of the countries are played, the CBA was restricted to gift cultivated of stiff, state-run academies that were athletic. That is dragged down the quality of play; Yao stays one of the few breakout stars to emerge in the Chinese leagues.

Competition is also hampered by the CBA’s company structure. Unlike the NBA, where teams keep most of the sponsorship money they make, CBA franchises must turn over all of their sales to the league front office. Naturally, the system continues to be a commercial disaster. Last season, just one of the CBA’s 20 teams made a profit.

The original article is here (Bloomberg).

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