I have always felt that the whole athlete trading business had the makings of becoming an outright auction of the players. Generally speaking, an auction involves buying and or selling a good based on bids and it is the person with the highest bid who ‘wins’ the item. Trading on the other hand, involves the exchange of goods. However, in the sports industry, these trades also include the exchange of money in addition to the good (which is the player). I think when money is included, it makes the transaction less of a ‘trade’ and more auction-like because you are trying to make your offer more appealing thereby attaching a few dollars to the player you’re offering.
As a student athlete I have seen firsthand how the whole process of scouting can be considered an auction. Initially, the players show their interest in playing for a certain team, making them a sort of price taker, because coaches may have many other players who they are considering as well. However, if there is a player who is well known among many coaches at different universities, each coach will essentially make their offer and place a ‘bid’. Bids can consist of full scholarships, book money, free student housing etc [something similar happened to the main character in the movie The Blind Side with Sandra Bulluck]. Normally, the coach with the best offer wins the athlete.
But, once athletes make it to the pro level, I feel as though the power between athlete and owner shifts once again, especially when it comes to being traded.
I came across a site called Athletes Auction where European basketball players can manage their own careers and clubs/ teams can do business in a more transparent way. Players become visible to more European programs, they determine their own starting salary. Clubs can save money because there aren’t any agency fees, there is direct correspondence with the player, and the bidding process is discreet. This is a very new site and it will be interesting to see if it gains any popularity in the American industry. I doubt it.