The King Speaks from Across the Pond

Feb 21, 2008

One of my best friends made the move a few years ago from New York City to London.  He’s always been somewhat of an introvert, so I am equally impressed with both his decision to take a risk, and the way he’s successfully pulled it off.

With the globalization of sport (NBA European Division?, NFL games in London, Buffalo Bills move to Toronto?, etc.) many of us our offering up resistance to these changes.  Here to offer us his London perspective is my good friend “The King”. 

Should the English Premier League Football be hit with a yellow card?
Photo courtesy of Icon SMI

“I have one problem with American sports today that I need to vent and it’s now taking over even here in England.  Maybe you can take it up on your blog and bring some attention to it before it’s too late.   That is the  commercialization of sport.   For Christ sake, going to a college Football game now feels like an NFL experience in some places.   It’s all about money, tv rights, etc.  Have you heard about this ridiculous idea of English Premier League Football (soccer) now moving abroad and scheduling one league game a season for each team overseas?  This was direct response from the NFL having “successfully ” playing one game a year here in Europe and generating a bunch of revenue.  Dolphins  – Giants.  But it’s causing massive shockwaves here in a country where tradition is king.  Seems the American way is spreading over here to the owners and it’s not good.  Alas, how does this really effect American sports fans (your readers). Well, read the link I provided about NBA’s european expansion plans all for money.  Where does this quest for increased tv, ad, etc revenue stop for the love of the sport!  We are no longer seen as fans, we are customers! Will we care about games between the NY Knicks and the Singapore Slingers? Can a game between the Dallas Cowboys and London Dragons really help the game?  You think those are hypothetical?  Not if you actually see what is going on around the world right now as we speak it’s not.   Read this about the NBA’s planThis quest for money needs to stop at some point.  Teams need to realize that they play for fans, the fans don’t play for them.  Have a read about the English League and it may be a preminition of whats surely to come in the States if it hasn’t already.

First of all, I’d like to thank The King for his unique perspective.  I agree wholeheartedly that the commecialization of sports and the continual push for more revenue continues to separate the fan from the ownership.  They deal in numbers that ordinary fans can’t even begin to contemplate.  For example, if one of us blew the sort of money the Yankees did (even proportionate to our income) in signing Carl Pavano, we would likely be hurting for several years.  However, when you’re dealing with big business like the Yankees are, you can shrug it off and just sign Roger Clemens to a $28 million pro-rated one-year deal.  Everyone comes down on the players for their enormous contracts, but they rarely cast their stare on the management’s bankroll.  It seems like everything is for sale.  Candlestick Park and the Boston Garden are just a couple examples of the corporate greed.  Even we as fans are up for sale.  Do you think they care about us or the revenue we provide them?  How else can you justify taking away a home game from diehard fans.  When new stadiums are built, what is usually the most imporant thing?  Corporate suites.  They would rather wine and dine the corporate types than provide affordable seating to the fans who really support the team.  We hear over and over again that it’s a business.  Well, it wasn’t always that way.  You hear that it’s entertainment.  It wasn’t always that way.  It was once a sport. 

Posted by | Categories: MLB, NBA, NFL | Tagged: English Premier League Football, Soccer |
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11 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

  1. Eric
    February 21st, 2008 at 8:37 am #

    Great post. I’d like to hear more from “The King.” You both make some really good points. I would offer the renovations at Fenway Park as one exception though.

  2. Chuck
    February 21st, 2008 at 8:46 am #

    I agree. The owners care about one thing. The bottom line.

  3. Ryan Lester
    February 21st, 2008 at 9:02 am #

    Eric – Good point about Fenway. They could have easily tore it down, but they’ve just come up with creative ways (Green Monster seats) to generate more revenue.
    Chuck – Unfortunately that is true in a lot of cases.

  4. wassup471
    February 21st, 2008 at 9:28 am #

    Unfortunately, Chuck and Eric are right. Winning championships, although nice, is not the goal of a business-but playoff tickets do generate more revenue. And now, we’re trying to tap into new markets, at the possible expense of culture and American fans? Stop the madness!

  5. Ryan Lester
    February 21st, 2008 at 10:08 am #

    wassup – Totally agree. Good point about winning does generate more revenue.

  6. The King
    February 21st, 2008 at 10:21 am #

    Well, the thing that worries me is once these leagues start down this path of international games, etc. There’s no going back. Once they make $15 million from a game in Tokyo and spend it they will just need to keep going back to the well each year for more, more, more. When the foreign fan base grows all of a sudden you have a whole new kettle of special interests demanding things from the league. Right now, the NFL, NBA, etc can lay down the rules but…when 1 billion Chinese fans step in, forget about it. This is an important point I got from Martin Samuels column about the Premier league which worries me for all sports that end up down this path. Let’s hope the English fans (who I will admit are not afraid of anything short of burning owners in effigy and mass boycotts when ticket prices raise $5) put up a real fight about this and set a precedent. See below:

    “In the beginning, the networks needed football to sell satellite dishes and subscriptions and the game had the upper hand. What has changed is that football has grown to become dependent on television money and now both sides have a bargaining tool.

    That will be the fate of the 39th game, too, or any of the other gimmicks requiring lavish patronage. At first, English football will be able to name its price, but, in time, when this bounty is factored into the budget of all Premier League clubs, the host cities will be in a position to play hardball with everything from kick-off times to format and the identity of the visiting clubs. Don’t think this cannot happen. A few years ago Scudamore was claiming that something else would never happen on his watch: Premier League matches kicking off abroad.”

  7. Ryan Lester
    February 21st, 2008 at 10:30 am #

    The King speaks. This truly is a crossroads for sports. I’m afraid that money will win in the end. It almost always seems to.

  8. Ryan Lester
    February 21st, 2008 at 11:32 am #

    To play the Devil’s Advocate, adding the Wild Card was frowned upon by baseball purists, but it’s worked out very well for baseball. Instead of having a couple teams in playoff races, you have a whole slew of teams (last year in the National League is a perfect example). You had several teams playing meaningful September games. You can say it was to add excitement to the game, which in part it was and has worked, but you know that added revenue weighted heavily into the decision. There have been several wildcard teams to win the World Series so you’re not going to get complaints from those fans. How about the ever-expanding NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament. It was expanded to include more teams. I’m certain revenue weighed into that decision. How about expansion teams? With the internet and other technologies the world is, in a sense shrinking. What’s wrong with capitalizing on it? Why should Europeans not be able to enjoy an NFL game if they so choose? Basketball is wildly popular in Europe. Why not let them see the best the world has to offer? Soccer is one of the most popular sports worldwide. Wouldn’t expanding the reach of it just make sense? Change is almost always met with resistance. Sometimes it works (wildcard), sometimes it doesn’t (USFL).

  9. The King
    February 21st, 2008 at 11:39 am #

    Because in an Expanded global NFL…My Buffalo Bills will be a minor league team!!!!!! Sayonara Bills

  10. Ryan Lester
    February 21st, 2008 at 11:46 am #

    They may be the first to go. Toronto Bills has a funny ring to it.

  11. Pops
    February 23rd, 2008 at 6:26 pm #

    Interesting discussion

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