Search This Blog

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Feudal System of Professional Sports

"It is more profitable for me to have a team that is in contention for most of the season but finishes about fourth. A team like that will draw well enough during the first part of the season to show a profit for the year, and you don't have to give the players raises when they don't win.” --  Connie Mack

I've used that quote before in previous postings.. It is as honest and genuine a quote as you will ever hear, and if you want to really understand what professional sports is about..  what Corporate business is about..  what America is about..

That's the quote to put up on your wall.

Today I want to continue with some of the themes of yesterday's post because sports is the perfect microcosm of the world we live in, especially the relationship, albeit a quite thin one between those at the top (the owners) and those at the very bottom (the fans)
If sports were a fiefdom, the owner would be the knight, those under his employ would be the serfs (or slaves) and then there's the fan - the worthless nothing peon to be peed on with no voice or say

It may sound harsh but really when you move beyond the entertainment value of the sport teams you support and look at it from not just a business side but a behavior psychology perspective, fans matter less today than ever before when it comes to decisions and overall operation of teams.

We sit in the overpriced seats.. we boo.. we cheer.. we pay $10 for beer..

We pay $100 a month for cable to see our teams on TV then sit for three hours to watch games that should be taking 48 to 60 regulation minutes to play..
Or the most desperate shell out $150 or so for a league 'package' that allows us to watch pretty much every team without commercials.. Just can't watch the local teams you spent your childhood into adolescence formulating a bond to..

Well you 'can' but have to wait 48 hours after game is played so that means total local sports blackout and the hope/prayer no one you come across says 'Hey did you see that game last night?  Ugh..'

If you are a fan of a select few teams, you are Very fortunate and lucky and probably don't have a clue what the big hub-bub is about..

There are certain organizations that sincerely Try every year to win..  They may not always be successful and they may not always get into playoffs but they genuinely TRY..  They will spend or overspend.. aim at the biggest names, the best talent..
In football, Dallas comes to mind as does the New England Patriots..  Maybe the Steelers..  The Oakland Raiders of Al Davis when he was alive and mentally sound, also sincerely tried.

In baseball, the Yankees of course, Red Sox as well.. They may have finished last in AL East but it wasn't a lack of trying..  Dodgers..

In basketball, the San Antonio Spurs, Chicago Bulls, LA Lakers.. maybe 1-2 others I missed..

Etc.. Etc..
The rest of the teams in each sports league..   They all go through the motions..

They do just enough to get you to keep interested and want to attend..

Some owners can't even bring themselves to do that, so the big sell is on the 'future'.. Future talent.. Future draft picks..  Future glory..

Then in the case of the Philadelphia Phillies, after losing 99 games decides to raise ticket prices..  They're no dum-dums..  They know the fans will still go and pay more to watch an inferior product.
The Kansas City Royals are in the World Series taking on the NY Muts (Mets)..  Obviously I hope they win it all but the bigger story is that from 1985 when they last won a Championship until 2014, this team did not make the playoffs once!!

That's 29 years of failure, futility and ownership that Intentionally found it more profitable to convert their ball club into a glorified minor league team that would draft good players and as soon as they deserved to be paid, would trade for prospects

Pittsburgh Pirates did the same thing.. for decades
And the ballclubs always made a nice sizable Profit even though they averaged among last in annual attendance because of revenue sharing among the other clubs and its not difficult to make a profit when your payroll is 1/10th the Yankees or Sox

And the KC fans?  Fucked over year after year after year with 'One day..'

And they lucked out, and that 'one day' is today..   They better enjoy it immensely because if history is an indicator, this team will be gutted in another year or two for more prospects..

When one is very young, the future seems so full of possibilities and so infinite a space of time

And when you get older, and I'm not even talking "old", you realize that life is short and one doesn't just have 3 or 5 or 7 years to fuck around waiting for a sports team to be competitive enough for one to enjoy seeing and feeling relaxed/joyful by..
Win, lose or utterly stink, the GD owners make a financial killing every year...

It is a lot like the concept of warfare as in, why if we all know war is terrible and horrible is the world always engaged in some fight or another?

Well most understand.. but the wee ones.. the kiddies and naive-minded adolescents look at things different and war is 'fun' and exciting and thus all it takes for new wars to start is to replenish those who are old and jaded with healthy, fit lads and lasses with doe eyes

Same with sports..  to a 10 year old or a college kid, sports don't just matter, they really MATTER!

And they, especially those with disposable incomes and no real responsibilities yet will piss away their money on courtside seats to see a shitty Sixers game or whatever..

And they more than anyone else will believe the lie of 'We're trying..'; Eat it up in gulps..
When you know 'the deal' or 'the score' to use jive talk, its harder and harder for others to sell you a line..

But so many people love sports; zealously passionate about following their teams and shockingly most don't care or wish to bother pulling back the veil to see who are the real villains when their 'guys' are perpetually in last place,,

The players?  Yeah, OK.. get what you pay for..   The manager/coach?  Ehh, maybe..   General Manager?  Possibly-Maybe..

But you gotta tilt that neck a little bit higher.. go to the very top..
A sports franchise owner of a team you love can do more (or do less via inaction) to overall impact a person's life in a negative, depressing way than any US President, Dem or Rep, and unlike a President  the sports gets completely absolved of blame.

Most don't even know the names of the owners of their local professional sports teams, much less how these billionaire scum made their fortunes or their priorities - Win or make profit?  Keep team in city or relocate it?

As I get older I think the smartest fans are the bandwagon fans..  Just choose the teams that are 'hot', watch with some detachment and then jump into the next team's 'bed'

Because life is stressful enough without sports adding to it..