Thursday, May 10, 2007

An introduction to laissez-faire ball

Several weeks ago, I got home after a night out and started flipping around the channels looking for something interesting. As is routinely the case at 2:30 in the morning, there was little on beyond SportsCenter that even mildly piqued my interest. But, I continued to flip.

Eventually, I landed on a repeat of a congressional hearing on C-SPAN from earlier in the week that included John Kerry lecturing to DirecTV heads about their prospective
$700 million deal not being fair to fans. Kerry argued that it was a disservice to baseball fans everywhere that fans would either be forced to switch to DirecTV if they wanted to have access to the Extra Innings package, or subscribe to and watch games on their computers.

I switched off the TV and went to bed letting my distaste for John Kerry simmer. When I woke up, I realized I was downright angry about this. What right does he have to tell Major League Baseball that they can't reach an exclusive deal to show its product with whomever they choose? If the deal ends up turning off baseball fans because of a lack of access, that is their right as a business. As long as the owners of the teams agree to it, where is the harm? We don't have some kind of intellectual right to enjoy a specific sport, and if we want to see or experience something that we deem worthy, we can make the necessary sacrifices to do so. Nobody has the right to deny Major League Baseball that right except the people who own the teams, especially not Congress.

Then, I realized, this is all part of a larger issue that encompasses so much more. There is a very pervasive attitude in sports that carries all the way down the line. Sports owe people something. We care about their product, and thus it entitles us to try and control what those sports do. In reality, the only thing that team owners care about is your passion for their team - as it relates to revenue. In the end, they could really give a damn whether you are a hardcore fan who watches every game and spends $400 a year on team-related endeavors (tickets, T-shirts, etc.) or if you are a passive fan who watches one game a year and drops $400 in one day at the ballpark. If you're an owner worth your water, you'll believe such in your heart of hearts.

I'm being long-winded to get to one main point - fans do not hold some kind of intellectual property of a sport or team.

However, every day, fans complain about what happens with their favorite team/sport and don't realize that the only way they can really enact change is with their pocketbooks. If an organization (sports or otherwise) isn't doing what you want it to, then stop giving it your money. This is how the market works, and few people realize that this is their only true recourse.

As I started going over these thoughts and organizing them, the first person I thought of that agreed with me is one of my best friends, Travis, who now lives in St. Louis. He and I believe that the less the government is involved, the better. It's a simple concept, but unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be as popular in America as it used to be. His educational background (Bachelor's degree in Economics and a minor in Mathematics from Webster University, currently a graduate student at University of Missouri-St. Louis) gives him a lot more special knowledge of the ins and outs of economics, and my educational background (Bachelor's degree in Print Journalism) give us a semi-unique perspective of the sports world.

Most of the subjects you will find here will be finance related, but I imagine that as this project progresses, it will broaden some, and it's impossible to predict where it will go.

Under each post, you will find either my signature, or Travis'. Although he and I agree on many issues, always remember that just because I write something, it doesn't make it Travis' opinion, and vice versa. He may agree with everything I am saying, but don't just assume that.

This blog is dedicated to common sense and free markets.

The Tenets of Free Market Sports

1) The concept of free-market economics can be successfully implemented into sports in all aspects.

2) Sports is an entertainment business and should be thought as such by players, fans and especially the government.

3) Fans do not hold intellectual property of a team or sport and can only hold sway with the money they spend.

4) Government regulation of sports in any facet is intrusive and unnecessary.

5) The funding of sports stadiums either partial or fully by taxpayers without a popular vote is undemocratic.

6) Athletes are entertainment commodities and are not overpaid. The compensation they receive is the result of a demand for their services and is a reflection of the markets they serve.

7) Profit sharing is counterintuitive and does not encourage lower-revenue teams to improve their product.

8) It is not the public school system's responsibility to train young athletes. The model the rest of the world uses works much better.

9) College athletics are government-funded monopolies that employ a broken system and are an extension of the broken high school system.

10) Salary caps prevent franchises from freely running their business and thus unnecessarily restrict them from fully utilizing that franchise's learning potential.

Reasonably yours,

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