by: JD Garcia (Photo credit: Big Baller Brand)
Do you have $500 to spend on a pair of kicks? No? Well, then you ain’t a #BigBaller. You lose.
Those are the words straight from the man himself, LaVar Ball. The man who claims that he’s better than the GOAT (Yes, MJ’s still the GOAT and Kobe’s a near 2nd ha!). The infamous father of the Ball Brothers. The mastermind behind Big Baller Brand. The brand that just recently caused a fiasco introducing the Big Baller Brand ZO2 Prime. The first ever signature shoe of the eldest Ball brother, Lonzo. Instead of signing with known brands like Nike, Adidas, or Under Armour, the Ball family decided to produce their own basketball sneaker now being sold at the insane price of $495 (Php25,000 for a pair of Kobe-looking knock-offs?! No thank you!).
This got us thinking here at Batas Sportiva, is this even right? Can someone just put a product out there for sale and put whatever price, however arbitrary, he/she wants? Well, we ain’t #BigBallers but we got big b… uh… brains, so let us drop some knowledge on you right now. In the 18th century, an economic theory gained much popularity. This, as you 18th century fanatics may have guessed, is what’s called the “Laissez-Faire” theory, which basically espouses the idea of letting the market rule itself. Simply put, the less regulation, the better. This theory gives much presumption that a free market would create competition in itself that would ultimately redound to the benefit of the consumers.
When LaVar Ball was asked during the “Dan Le Batard Show” why he priced the ZO2 sneakers at $495, he said, “I figured that’s what the shoe was worth.” Laissez-Faire. But what if you’re a kid who really wants those ZO2s? And you don’t have enough allowance to save for those (since you have baon of hotdog and pink rice, yeah you guys know what I’m talking about). Can the government regulate the price? Bring it down to a more reasonable and realistic price like $50? (Awesome segue, right?)
Well, because there’s free market (at least in the sneaker industry), the government can’t do anything. That’s the invisible hand slapping you into reality. However, there are some commodities that are so imbued with public interest that government authorities have no choice but to regulate them. These are often referred to as your “Basic Necessities”. These are goods vital to the need of consumers for their sustenance and existence. Examples of Basic Necessities are rice, bread, meat, poultry, eggs, cooking oil, laundry soap (because stinky clothes will kill your neighbor) and locally manufactured instant noodles (caused we need them itnoks!). There are also what we call “Prime Commodities.” These are goods not considered Basic Necessities but are still essential to consumers, like processed or canned meat, onions, garlic, patis, cement, hollow blocks, plywood and light bulbs.
Prices of Basic Necessities and Prime Commodities are subject to regulation and, in certain instances, can even be frozen at their prevailing prices or placed under automatic price control by the government, or even placed with a certain ceiling. The rationale behind regulating the price of these commodities is to ensure their availability at all times and so that the public will be protected from hoarding, profiteering and cartels. There are also other commodities that are highly regulated by the government, like oil and energy. Can you just imagine what would happen if Laissez Faire was allowed to reign free on commodities like these? We’d all be up to our chests in electric bills.
Basic Necessities, Prime Commodities, oil and energy, these are different from your non-essential goods or your luxury items. Will you asphyxiate without your iPhone? Will you pass away without your LV bag? Well, some might say yes but really, NO. Obviously, basketball sneakers are considered luxury goods. And unless you can lobby with our lawmakers to pass a law declaring sneakers as Basic Necessities or Prime Commodities because, well, #BallisLife, then sneaker brands will always have the discretion to price their products. That’s considered legitimate business prerogative.
So what can we take from all of this?
(1) Free market reigns;
(2) there are certain commodities considered essential to human existence that are regulated by the government (not including sneakers); and
(3) we will never be #BigBallers but we can still have big bowls of instant noodles because those are Basic Necessities.
JD Garcia is an editor of Batas Sportiva. He could probably take LaVar Ball one-on-one.
 Section 1, Republic Act No. 10623, amending Section 3(1) of Republic Act No. 7581.
 Id, Section 2, amending Section 3(8) of Republic Act No. 7581.
 Section 6, Republic Act No. 7581.
 Id, Section 7.
 Id, Section 2.