Pro sports’

Forbes - - Thought Leaders -

Pro sports is boom­ing. Fran­chise val­ues are way up. But ev­ery ma­jor Amer­i­can pro sports league has a sore spot that threat­ens its fu­ture.

The Na­tional Foot­ball League is rife with life-short­en­ing in­juries and per­for­mance-en­hanc­ing drugs. The two are re­lated. Juiced play­ers are big­ger and faster—not un­usual are 260-pound pass rush­ers who run a 4.6-sec­ond 40yard dash—and col­lide with the force of crash­ing cars. Pro bas­ket­ball has too many games—82 in a reg­u­lar sea­son, which means more than 100 for those teams mak­ing the fnals. How long be­fore game seven of the NBA fnals is played on the Fourth of July?

Ma­jor League Base­ball ofers scant ap­peal to Mil­len­ni­als. AfricanAmer­i­can par­tic­i­pa­tion is way of. A game de­signed for two hours of­ten stretches past three. And in pro­fes­sional hockey you can of­ten in­jure the other team’s star player with lit­tle con­se­quence.

Then there’s the gam­bling. The NFL and NBA em­brace such sites as Draft Kings and Fan Duel as tick­ets to a rich fu­ture. Put aside the ques­tion­able le­gal­ity of fan gam­bling—why is this le­gal and not on­line poker?—it won’t be a sal­va­tion. This is what will hap­pen: Fans will lose in­ter­est in buy­ing tick­ets to live games.

Another scourge of all ma­jor sports: hor­ri­ble own­ers who be­come en­trenched. Two great NBA fran­chises are great no more—the New York Knicks and the Los An­ge­les Lak­ers. They are laugh­ing­stocks. The own­ers of both are in­com­pe­tent to their core. How odd that the two largest cities in the U.S. should have two of the worst NBA teams.

Ex-mi­crosoft CEO Steve Ballmer sur­veyed the wreck of the L.A. Lak­ers and stepped in last year to buy the pre­vi­ously worst-owned NBA fran­chise, the L.A. Clip­pers. The $2 bil­lion price Ballmer paid was a bar­gain. The Clip­pers quickly be­came L.A.’S “it” team. And the Lak­ers have been re­duced to a Schaden­freude out­let store.

lessons from the worst

If the rock-bot­tom, worst-ever owner in pro sports used to be Don­ald Ster­ling of the L.A. Clip­pers, the losers now hail from foot­ball. Dan Sny­der’s Wash­ing­ton Red­skins have be­come a punch line. We all have our opin­ions on whether Na­tive Amer­i­cans should be co-opted into pro sports team names. The Univer­sity of Illi­nois Fight­ing Illini and the Florida State Semi­noles are deemed dig­nifed pre­sen­ta­tions, so they live on. The Univer­sity of North Dakota Fight­ing Sioux, how­ever, are no more. This only shows that good peo­ple can make difer­ent choices. But “Red­skins”?

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