Reading about the insane and obscene contracts being handed out to Major League Baseball’s most elite free-agents has reminded me of one of my better brilliant-ideas-that-will-never-happen.
Let’s socialize pro sports.
Crazy, eh? Read on.
Each team would be owned by its city. Players would be paid well, but not exorbitantly, according to a league-wide pay scale and salary cap. Players would have generous post-career packages that made sure they had plenty of opportunities to obtain further education and build a second career. And the biggest stars could still cash in on the side with endorsement deals, etc.
Players would cease to be nomads with a list of teams on their resumés. Trades would still happen, but not—as is so often the case today—as salary dumps. For the most part, team rosters would be stable.
Fans would be supporting their team, and cheering for their players, instead of supporting some billionaire’s team and cheering for the latest gang of rent-a-players to put on the team uniform.
Ticket prices could return to affordable levels for middle-class fans.
The bulk of the TV revenues and other profits would go to the owners—that is, the cities—and be used for roads, schools, hospitals, recreation facilities, etc.
“Objection!” you say. “My city government has messed up everything else already—I don’t want them firing coaches and GMs, too. And what about the possibilities for corruption?”
And I say: you’ve got to be kidding.
How could the hiring and firing of team management get any worse than it is now? And how could a bit more government graft be worse than a small pack of billionaires and millionaires taking everything? Maybe city ownership of teams would inspire a bit more participation in the democratic process; how bad could that be?
And I haven’t even mentioned the current scandalous conditions under which cities are extorted into subsidizing stadiums for billionaire owners who threaten to pack up and move elsewhere if they don’t get the sweet deal they demand.
To hell with all these billionaires. Socialize pro sports so we can root for teams that are really ours.