Big sports caught up in big profit

By Travis Brown
STAR Staff
tbrown@starhq.com

   Over the last decade, the sports world has been shifting towards a new philosophy of play.
   Sports, in the purest sense, are games and they are played for fun. The recent surge in minor sports such as soccer, hockey and tennis display a trend of the American public towards sport and not business.
   The major sports (baseball, basketball and football), have traditionally been the mainstay of the American public. Consumers that were drawn to the game as kids are now finding that these sports are not sports at all, they are becoming for-profit businesses.
   I love baseball and football with a passion. I take every available opportunity to watch a good ballgame, and that is the reason I enjoy my job so much here at the STAR. But there is a disturbing force in professional athletics today, and I fear that it can bring down the industry.
   The main focus of today's athletics is shifting from the love of the sport to the love of money. Look at boxing for example. In the undercard bouts and small-time fights, the competition is fierce and the will to win is obvious.
   However, in the big name heavyweight fights, where millions of dollars are involved, the focus is on the size of the pay-per-view audience, and not the caliber of the fight.
   I'm not saying that a promoter or a major league owner should be broke. This is America and everyone should be able to hit it big, but I believe that our athletes and role models are hitting it a little too big.
   Ballplayers should be well paid, and the contracts seven to eight years ago were reasonable, but today's multi-million dollar deals are simply mindboggling. I'm not faulting the athletes. If someone wrote me million dollar checks I would cash them too, but the owners of these clubs need to wake up.
   The main focus these days seems to be directed towards the TV contracts and merchandise agreements. With these huge sums of money involved, the ticket prices for a single game are going through the roof. I could understand 20 bucks for a decent seat at a ballgame but today's rates are utterly ludicrous.
   Football isn't so bad, but baseball is getting worse each year, and they have the audacity to threaten a strike. Baseball cannot survive another lockout/strike. Apparently it's not only the owners who have been bitten by the profit bug.
   I'll admit I have not kept close tabs on the NBA this year, but the same problems that exist in baseball are creeping into hoops as well.
   The problems are not sport specific, they exist in the management of professional teams.
   Good players are not selected so the team can win. They are selected so the teams can sell tickets. Winning is just a nice bonus that helps sell more tickets, and obtain a more lucrative TV contract.
   Money is going to be involved in our modern society, but just like money should not be a determining force in politics or our personal lives, so to is the case in the sports world.
   Let's urge our professional sports to play more like collegiate and high school athletics. Keep the integrity of the sport intact and make sure that the motives for success are derived from the quality of the sport, not the size of the check.