I wrote the following during a back-and-forth about sports on Facebook. I decided I kinda liked it so I’m posting it out here (slightly edited for clarity).
What, exactly, is “local” about a sports team these days?
Are they owned by local businesspeople?
Are they staffed by local players who really care about the community?
The only thing that makes a sports team “local” these days is location. Money goes back into the community, sure. I know that Raymond James Stadium allows local charities to run the concession booths and take part of the profits. That’s cool. Local businesses see a spike in sales on game days. Also awesome. But do you really think that ANY of the owners of the major league teams in the Tampa Bay area give a DAMN about this area beyond what they can do for the bottom line? Same goes for the players. Do they care about playing for US or do they care about making money and playing for a winning team. The Bucs have had a few examples (Mike Alstott being the most prominent), but they also had one guy who loved this area so much he offered to take a pay cut just so he could retire here and they STILL got rid of him (John Lynch). Shaun King was born and raised in this area, graduated from Gibbs High School, but he wasn’t good enough of a Quarterback so we got rid of him. Winning matters, because winning makes you more profitable. If an owner could make more money by having a crappy team you can damn well bet he will (and has…case in point? Hugh Culverhouse).
Sports is a business these days. You know what they see us as? Dollars. They don’t give a damn about the fans unless the fans are increasing the bottom line (Tampa Bay Rays – Seriously profitable even with crappy attendance numbers but they want to move anyway).
So – If all I am to a sports team is a dollar symbol, I’m going to make sure I get a decent Return on Investment. If the team does not entertain, does not do well, or does not do anything that inspires my loyalty? Hell with them. I’ll invest my capital elsewhere.
“King” LeBron James had an entire city literally begging him to stay because they loved him so much. He went to Miami anyway. Why? He wanted a ring. This is the new reality. If the players on the teams (you know, the people who we’re actually supposed to be out there rooting for) aren’t going to have any loyalty why the HELL should we?
You want my loyalty? Don’t suck.