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Fans Are Killing Sports

8 Apr

People think that the management teams of their local franchises are strangling the success of their favorite squads with bad trades and poor decisions, but they are wrong. They think that the money-hungry agents and the athletes who only play for their next big contract are killing their favorite game. But, they are wrong about that too. People think that overzealous owners who do not trust the staff that they hired are stifling the prospects of their hometown teams, however they are mistaken. The people who are responsible for the death of sports are actually its fans.

That is right. Do not blame owner Jerry Jones for his micro-management of the Dallas Cowboys, and their chronic under-achieving. It is not his fault. Blame yourself Cowboys’ fanatics. Do not blame the sports agent, Drew Rosenhaus, and the exorbitant contracts that he gets for his players. He is not to blame. You fans want his clients on your teams because you have seen their highlights on Sportscenter countless times. You know that Rosenhaus only represents the best athletes and always gets top dollar for their services. So, when your favorite team deals with him, they will probably overpay for a talented athlete who you will then shift blame upon for your team losing. And similarly, the players should not shoulder the blame either. Yes, most of them are being paid well over what they are worth to the franchise, and all of them are being paid a lot of money to play a game, but that is not their fault.  Some players want wins, some want fame, and others want money. Their play reflects their desires. That is just how it is. The onus is on management to find the right players for their teams. The responsibility of a good owner is to install the right general managers and coaches, who ultimately bring wins and revenue. All three parts of any sports franchise, owner, management, and players are connected. However, all three factions are also looking out for their own interests. The owners want a return on their investments (the team), coaches want wins (and money), and players want a combination of the two. The power to influence who is hired rests with the fans and their finances.

A fanatic, by definition is a person marked by excessive enthusiasm and often intense uncritical devotion. You see, fans enable owners, coaches, and athletes to perform underwhelmingly because of their loyalty. Their love of the team prohibits them from taking a candid look at their franchise and demanding a better product when their expectations are not met. Devout fans of boxing will watch boxing matches regardless of who is fighting. The reason why Floyd Mayweather can duck a fight with Manny Pacquiao while counting a million dollars on his private jet is because boxing fans will not boycott his fights until he and Pacquiao step into the ring together. The Klitschko brothers have dominated the heavyweight division and own all the belts in the division, but will not face each other in the ring. If fans stop ordering the fights of the two brothers on Pay-Per-View, then the Klitschko brothers would be forced to fight each other. If you pay men millions of dollars to compete against and defeat men who are not close to their level of boxing, then why would they ever test themselves against the only person thatcould beat them (unless they are one of the few people driven solely by competition)? And to that point, why would a guy like Blake Griffin or Dwight Howard push himself to be the best player in the league and an eventual NBA champion if he can make $100M by making regular appearances on highlight reels without achieving any significant accomplishments in the NBA? The answer is simple. They would not push themselves. Athletes of this generation do not have the same drive as ones in years past. And that attitude trickles down from management to be better. When everyone treats the game completely as a business, then the product suffers. However, fans accept the decisions that their franchises make without questioning the decisions. Until recent years, the Los Angeles Clippers have been a notoriously horrible franchise in the NBA, but have not gone defunct or moved to different city. They have arguably been the worst franchise in sports over the last thirty years, but people have always attended the games. The Seattle Mariners have not competed for a World Series in two decades, because they regularly sell out the stadium despite fielding a mediocre team. And, fans are to blame for supporting athletes and franchises despite their obvious lack of commitment to winning.

That’s an owner who cares about winning.

Complaining in barbershops and shopping malls does nothing to influence owners to make better efforts at building winners in their respective cities. Very few owners are committed to winning at any price like Mark Cuban and Robert Kraft. For most owners like Donald Sterling, their team is strictly a business opportunity. If you want your team to win, then you have to speak the language that they understand, dollars and cents. When the money stops rolling in, then the major sports owners will make the necessary changes to improve their franchises. If you want your team to win a championship, then do not be a fanatic. Be a smart consumer.


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