Dave Zirin wrote a compelling book, Bad Sports: How Owners Are Ruining the Games We Love. In it, he details how sports team ownership has lost touch with the fans who support the team. The old paradigm of making money in sports by putting fans in the seats has given way to the new paradigm of the “unholy trinity” of public funds for stadiums, corporate sponsorship of stadiums and boxes and television rights. Dave believes this is wrong.
In baseball, for instance, he feels it is unfair for baseball to have an anti-trust exemption from the government while accepting government “welfare” to build new stadiums. He called the bulding of new stadiums in cities a “stadium arms race.”
Another troubling issue is steroid use in baseball. He finds it incredible that: 1) the players are being indicted and punished while the owners feign ignorance of steroid use. In business, it would be unacceptable for a business owner to claim ignorance of what’s going on. Just ask Tony Hayward of BP. 2) George Mitchell headed the commission to investigate steroid use while being closely connected to the Boston Red Sox. Dave questions Mitchell’s impartiality when Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz, both of the Red Sox, didn’t appear in the report.
Dave railed against sports team owners like Peter Angelos of the Baltimore Orioles, whom he called a little George Steinbrener; Donald Sterling of the LA Clippers and Merritt Paulson (former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson‘s son) of the Portland Beavers minor league baseball team.
Listen to this fascinating interview below: