Why don’t the 76ers improve? You could blame it on the players, you could blame it on bad coaches, you could blame it on the management of the team, or, maybe, you could even blame it on Philadelphia. Really who wants to live in Philly? What are they famous for anyway? Their claim to fame is a sandwich with cheese whiz and a cracked bell. I state the above with a modicum of sarcasm, but the fact of the matter is that the Philadelphia 76ers are a consistently bad team.
As David Berri points out in “NBA Owners Do Not Understand Competitive Balance,” the problem is with competitive balance. That is the reason why year after year we see the same teams in relatively the same positions. Can that problem be fixed? Berri suggests in his article, that competitive balance is a problem that probably cannot be easily fixed.
One of the things this NBA case study illustrates for us is the consequences of a monopoly. In North America, our sports systems are set up under a monopoly structure. As the systems currently stand, there is no driving force to fix that structure. Monopolies can lead to economies of scale and scope, or, when regulated, they can result in a lack of desire to fix faulty performance, as seen in the Latin America energy monopolies. However, within the power of the monopoly, high prices can still be charged; and the output can be reduced to drive those high prices (i.e. the reason why NBA arenas have relatively small capacity). These problems can be removed in a perfect competitive setting or what Berri calls competitive balance.
There is more to the NBA problem, as well as other issues relating to monopolies. However, in regards to the Philadelphia 76ers, if I were a betting man, I would put big money on that team finishing in second to last place at the end of this season.