“Players play. Fans watch. Owners are uniquely charged with being stewards of the game. It’s a task that they have failed to perform in spectacular fashion.” – Dave Zirin
This week, Deadspin.com has been publishing leaked financial documents from several Major League Baseball teams, including the Florida Marlins, Tampa Bay (Don’t Call Them Devil) Rays, Seattle Mariners, (Los Angeles) Angels of Anaheim, Pittsburgh Pirates and Texas Rangers. The documents confirm sports fans’ worst suspicions: that owners are in it for the money, first, the prestige, second, and care about winning third, or maybe even not at all.
The documents paint “a picture that shows clubs at the low and middle level of player payroll spending are, for the most part, pulling a profit,” notes Business of Sports columnist Maury Brown. Despite the fact that many of these so-called “small market” teams are chronically uncompetitive, and complain compulsively about their inability to match the team salaries of the “big-market” clubs.
Seems the owners of the “small-market” teams are doing just fine, thank you. And it appears that losing pays far better than one may have thought it did. Who knew that owning an absolutely awful team like the Pittsburgh Pirates or Kansas City Royals could be so profitable? Continue reading
Last week, Spain defeated Holland to earn their first-ever World Cup Championship. It was a proud moment for a nation that has been futbol-crazy for over a century. And an intriguing chapter to a sporting history that has been divisive, and oftentimes violent.
For decades Spanish football has been dominated by two of Europe’s most famed clubs: Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. Their heated rivalry traces its roots back to the Spanish Civil War. Real Madrid was the favored team of Spanish dictator Ferdinand Franco, while Barcelona was championed by Catalonia’s left-wing intellectuals.
FC Barcelona has long provided the sports world with an example of a franchise that somehow manages to balance its core values with success on the field, and in doing so, keeps sports in its proper perspective. The club is run as a worker’s collective, with fans voting for team presidents. Barcelona prides itself as a “defender of freedom and democratic rights,” as former team president Joan Laporta puts it, “facing up to others in a time of governments without tolerance.” And they are currently in the middle of a five-year sponsorship deal with UNICEF, where Barcelona pays for the right to wear the UNICEF logo on their jerseys. A privilege that costs them $2 million a year. Continue reading