I Am Part Of The Problem

I would recommend clicking HERE and reading all of this, because it says it all.

There are two types of sports fans in the world: those who side with the players, and those who side with ownership. I always find myself in the latter camp, which is strange, because politically-speaking, that’s the opposite of what I espouse. I’m not Team Amazon, or Team Google, or Team Facebook; I’m Team Workers’ Rights. Trickle-Down Economics is a scam, because that money NEEEEEEVER trickles down. The rich ALWAYS get richer, and everyone else stays the fucking same. That’s why you see such a widening disparity in the income gap from the 1970’s to today. It’s capitalism run amok thanks to a neverending supply of greed and one-upmanship. I wouldn’t say I’m as liberal as it gets, but I will say that the wealthy in this country have nobody’s interests at heart except themselves (until they get so old, and so rich, that they decide to dedicate their lives to atonement through charity, at which point the damage has already been done); in short, they’re fucking scumbags.

Never has any of this sentiment been more applicable than in the world of sports ownership. The value of professional franchises (in the United States, we’re talking mostly about the NFL, MLB, NBA, and to a lesser extent the NHL) have skyrocketed over the last four decades; it’s the single best investment we have going right now! This is for any number of reasons, but at its essence it boils down to the fact that there are SO MANY different ways to monetize your team. TV deals, merchandise, ticket sales, stadium naming rights, luxury boxes, advertisements, you name it. If there’s a buck to be had, it WILL be had.

I think where the main disconnect lies is with these arbitrary and self-imposed limits teams and leagues put on themselves when it comes to salaries for their employees. I would argue that I’m not ACTUALLY on the side of ownership, but I’m just a fan who lives in the real world. Would it be nice if all teams spent whatever it took to bring in the very best players? Of course, but I live in the real world where it’s been decided that this isn’t an option, unless you’re in New York or Los Angeles or a small handful of other large cities. Would it be nice if teams actually TRIED to win, and didn’t just give lip-service to that desire? Again, of course, but teams are always going to be more interested in making money, and there will always be money to be made, even in losing.

For as much of a cynic as I can be, or a pessimist on even a good day, I can’t help but hold out hope on the things I want the most, no matter how far-fetched they are. Never is that carrot dangled more tantalizingly than with the sports teams I follow. That hope is the only thing that keeps me coming back for more and more torment! Why else would any rational human being continue to stand by the Seattle Mariners for this long? Why would you welcome back the Seahawks with open arms again after the nadir that was the 1990’s? It’s a sickness in the human mind – Dan Savage refers to it as Dickful Thinking when talking about sex – that allows you to warp and twist your thinking in such a way as to delude yourself into believing that continuing on this path is a smart idea.

I like to think I’ve moved beyond the mentality of “Shut Up & Honor Your Contract” when it comes to disgruntled players (admittedly, I was very much in that camp until probably a few years ago); owners time and time again refuse to honor contracts, so why should players have to sit there and accept it? For the longest time, I begrudged Alex Rodriguez for taking that money from the Texas Rangers, but you know what? If they’re going to offer that kind of money, you’d be an idiot not to accept it!

But, it’s time to take this personal growth to the next level. I still have to work within the confines of reality – I’m still going to be in favor of the Seahawks making smart decisions within their own salary cap, a la K.J. Wright – but that doesn’t prevent me from also demanding that the system itself should change. That our reality – as we now know it – doesn’t have to remain so forever. Maybe use a little of that Dickful Thinking when it comes to sports and sprinkle some of it on a hope that teams and their respective ownership groups should, you know, TRY to win. Not just once in a while, but all the time!

It’s grotesque that there are so many viable and quality free agents out there without deals, or who have to accept below-market contracts, because Major League Baseball invented a “Luxury Tax” system that effectively works as a Salary Cap without using those exact words. It’s grotesque where – in a sport that prints money – we have such disparity in payrolls from roster to roster, yet provide everyone with the same profit-sharing mechanism to perpetuate their unwillingness to spend. If there’s going to be a Salary Cap – er, excuse me, a Luxury Tax – then there has to be a Salary Floor, and a significant one. Really, the bottom end should be damn close to where the top is. And, if you’re a team in a city that can’t afford to provide in this fashion, then either you need to move or you need to sell to an ownership group that’s smarter and better able to monetize their product.

You’re telling me the team in St. Louis, MO, can frequently land in the Top 10 in payroll every single year, while the team in Oakland, CA – in the heart of Silicon Valley – is always at or near the bottom? In what world does that sort of ineptitude get rewarded?

Oh, that’s right, in the REAL world, where the rich always get richer, and everyone else can go and fuck off!

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