Fear in Sports

As a sport executive in 2015, I saw the future and became a prophet in the wind, the proverbial canary in the coal mine.  That is when I began sounding the alarm over the politicization of sports by the left and spoke of the implications for America.     

Over the course of the next several years, I wrote thousands of words on the subject under a pen name, the pseudonym came from knowing I would be bounced from the industry in a New York minute if my identity were known.

My concern predated Colin Kaepernick taking a knee, and if you were reading me back then, MLB’s recent decision to become woke activists and move the All-Star Game out of Atlanta would have come as no surprise to you.

So how did American sports end up like this? 

Bluntly put... fear.  Most of those who work in sports, including the decision makers, haven’t gone through a political metamorphosis of late. They are the same as they were years ago, a good representation of the American populous politically.  Some are on the left, some are on the right, some in the middle and many apolitical. 

The sports industries hard-left turn is driven solely out of survival instincts as well as the maxim, the squeaky wheel gets the grease.  So what if Major League Baseball’s favorable ratings fall from 47% to 12% among Republicans since the All Star Game debacle?  Commissioner Rob Manfred chose the path of least resistance.

Displease the left, you will be threatened with boycotts, violence, labeled sexist, racist, homophobic, and the media, both traditional and social, will roast you.  Displease the right and outside of a column or two like this, life will go on without a hitch. 

If my cultural scorecard is correct, the left controls education, both higher and lower, the entertainment industry, the arts, big tech, the fortune 500, billionaires, unions, sports. Shortly you will be able to add in most church denominations and the military, as they are quickly falling in line with the marching orders given by the left.  In the sports world we would call this a blowout. 

I can’t think of one cultural institution in America where conservatives have sway.  What good has winning elections done the right in the last 30 years, as the culture moves further left at warp speed?

If we wish to remain a free society, with a democratic process and basic liberties such as free speech, it is incumbent on those of us who aren't far left to get off the floor and get into the rhetorical fight and employ the same tactics the left has been using successfully for the last several decades.  Fight action with action.

I'm not sure what that will mean to other cultural institutions, but in the sports world, the following steps would wake up sports decision makers that conservatives won't stand for being pushed around, mocked or diminished going forward.

Step 1 - Attention Red State Governors.  No more state money for stadiums or joint property development deals with teams.  Don't sweat the old “build it for me or I'll move” threat.  The American sports market is saturated, and there are few good options left for sports franchises to move to. Of the ones that do exist, they are most likely to be in faster-growing red states.

Step 2 - Tax them when they come.  Many of the liberal cities tax visiting professional players paychecks a whopping amount when they come to play in their towns.  Red states should add on their own state tax and have it fund a conservative cause such as voucher programs for education.  Let millionaire players complain about funding childcare's education and see how that goes over.

Step 3 - Capital gains tax of 50% for any sale of a sports franchise over $100 million.  The dirty secret of owning a sports franchise is that making a profit from its operation is hard and uncertain.  The real value is in the resale.  Take, for instance, when Jeffery Loria sold baseball's struggling Miami Marlins in 2017 to Derek Jeter.  The sale price was $1.2 billion.  He bought the team for $185 million in 2002.  Not a bad return on investment for a team whose fan-base is nonexistent.

These are the type of ideas that would get sports franchises' attention and make them think twice about hopping on the hard left bandwagon. I know these proposals philosophically may not be conservative, but if the right wants to survive it needs to show it means business.  The left has taught us, it is better to be feared than liked.

Image: Steven DePolo

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