Zombie Owners, Zombie Teams (Chapter 4)

Critical Response Blog (Zirin Chapter 4)

In the book, “Game Over” by Dave Zirin, there is an extremely interesting reading which had myself stop and think whether the concept of Zombie Owners and Zombie Teams really does exist or not.

This leads into my first question of: if there really are zombie owners and zombie teams, how are we supposed to regulate them? In my mind, there has to be some way that the commissioners of the 4 major sport leagues in North America set reasonable guidelines to determine whether or not the owners are actually in it for the team and the success or just for the money.

Many owners throughout pro sport buy teams because the amount of money they can make off of them is absolutely ridiculous. Pittsburgh Pirates owner Robert Nutting made $29.4 million in profit and he couldn’t care that the team he owned had a payroll of $23 million and were the laughing stock for years in the MLB. Magic Johnson “bought” the LA Dodgers for $2 billion but it has surfaced that it is not just Magic Johnson who owns the Dodgers, but the financial company called Guggenheim Partners. Do they really care how the Dodgers do on the field? Probably not, as all we here about is Magic Johnson whenever the Dodgers are brought up and its Magic Johnson who takes the spotlight.

There has to be some regulation on who can own the teams as it has evolved into citizens of the cities paying for new major facilities when they can’t even walk through the gates of the stadium. This is especially true in places like Detroit, Cleveland, and Oakland. Maybe it is time for the commissioners of the sport leagues to implement some rules and guidelines a proper owner must follow so they’re not just in it for the profit. Some of these could include giving back to the community or forking over 50% or higher of their own money to help fund stadiums.

The second question I had when reading this article was, could an ownership style like with the Green Bay Packers work a little more? Maybe in smaller cities with a metropolitan population below 750,000 but even this is a stretch. I’m just thinking if this kind of ownership could spark something in cities like Detroit or Milwaukee or any cities that struggle in the community and need something to bring the city and its citizens back to life.

The chapter by Zirin is extremely interesting and it is also very true. Zombie owners and zombie teams are becoming way to frequent in pro sports these days and there needs to be some sort of way the issue could be solved in cities that struggle financially and has its citizens fork over money to keep the team in the city.

Zirin, D. (2013). Game over: How politics has turned the sports world upside down. New York: The New Press

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One Response to Zombie Owners, Zombie Teams (Chapter 4)

  1. mb11oo says:

    Many leagues already have a relatively extensive screening policy and perform due diligence checks on its potential franchise owners. However, the fact remains that owning a sport team is an investment, and the person or persons who risked their capital deserve to get a return on their investment. It is up to league management to ensure that teams spend up to a certain point. The NHL has such a policy by way of the salary floor. MLB has no policy and the results are predictable.

    If citizens of a city whose leadership decided to pay for sport facilities, it is the failure of the civic administration to agree to fund these facilities in the first place without ensuring that the general public’s interests are looked after.

    The Green Bay Pack model that Zirin speaks of was conceived almost a century ago. Private sport ownership has been the standard ever since and I”m afraid that particular horse has left the yard.

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