In Defense of the Owners

18to88 regular Doug England wishes to respond to the cascade of criticism leveled at the owners recently.  We’ve had a healthy debate on the subject in recent weeks.  I very much respect (though I disagree with) Doug’s views, so I offered him this chance to present his point of view. 

Over the last few days, Nate has (for lack of a better word), enthusiastically posted articles by Simmons, Kravitz and Jenkins.  All three with the skill of shooting unguarded layups on a backyard hoop, have taken shots at the NFL owners.

Fine, I get it.  They are an easy and probably deserving target.  They have also been very arrogant and at least in this instance, very stupid.

Furthermore this amazing triumvirate displayed the acumen of Wharton MBAs, by letting us know that the NFL generated nine billion dollars in revenue last year. (Wow, that is a really big number.) You’d think that would be enough to expect from this elite trio.  Oh no, taking investigative journalism to heights not seen since Woodward and Bernstein, they found out that NFL owners are really rich and that some of them (gasp) use their money to live lavish lifestyles.

I hesitate to bring this up… I obviously do not possess the intellectual gifts of this threesome because not one of them deemed it important enough to even mention, but there is a little thing called “expenses”.  I have even heard it mentioned in some radical circles, that if expenses are going up at a greater percentage than your revenue increases, things can get a little “dicey”.  (And not being a Green Bay share holder myself, I can’t be sure of this, but I have heard that 4 years ago, the Packers had earnings of over 30 million and last year it was only 9 million.  How can that happen with record revenues, better consult a CPA.)

So what is my point?  My point is that I believe if the NFL owners did fully disclose their books, it would not matter at all what they showed.  If they showed the outlandish profits most believe the owners are making… see, we told you so!  And if they showed a downward trend of net income, with the forecast being for expenses to continue to outgrow revenue, so what!  I dare you to speak of applying traditional business practices.  You have enough money, you should not care if you lose money on a vanity project like owning an NFL team.

And that attitude is my greatest fear.  I found the recent post comparing the Premier Soccer Leagues to the NFL very interesting.  The Soccer Leagues seemed to have grown to reflect the very European Class system that supports them.  The elite teams have evolved a class system that restricts movement, once you are placed, that is where you stay.

But that is not the way it is in the United States.  Fortunes are earned and lost every day.  Winners become losers from one season to the next. Americans have always seemed to know they are limited only by their talent, virtue and ambition.  That wealth in this country is not a finite thing.  How well Paul Allen is doing has nothing to do with anyone else’s prospects.

I have had my hopes and dreams.  Most of them to this point in my life have gone unrealized.  I have credit card debt, have managaged to save very little and live paycheck to paycheck.  And yet I am proud to say I have never felt jealous of anyone else’s fortune.  I have never felt penalizing or limiting saomeone else would, or more importantly, should help me.

The Simmons, Kravitz and Jenkins articles do not bother me because they attack the owners.  Instead it is the way they attack them.  The underlying tone is unmistakeable.  We are unquestionably right but no matter what the real truth is or turns out to be… in today’s America your are guilty because you are rich.

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