Taughannock Falls

Taughannock Falls
from: althouse.blogspot.com

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Green Bay Packers: success of the public option

Tomorrow's Super Bowl matchup will feature two hard-working, tough football teams that fought hard through a long season to get to the top. What many people don't know is that the Steelers are facing an opponent that's unique in American professional sports. The Green Bay Packers do make healthy profits. Yet these profits don't go into their owner's pockets. Why not? Because their is no wealthy individual or group of fat cats that owns the team. Thousands of average Green Bay citizens hold shares in the enterprise. They insist on maintaining a competitive team, and all the profits are re-invested into the franchise. Because the fans are in control, ticket prices are kept lower, and the team and community have a mutually supportive relationship. Patrick Hruby explains at ESPN.com:

"Green Bay is a dangerous example for [sports] owners," says Dave Zirin, who makes the case for Packers-style ownership in his book "Bad Sports: How Owners Are Ruining the Games We Love." "Because the franchise proves the argument for public ownership in practice."

Start with the NFL's potential work stoppage. Why did league owners opt out of the current collective bargaining agreement? Why are they threatening to lock out players come March?

Simple. They want a revamped CBA that ensures more profit. A bigger piece of the pie. As well they should. After all, they're owners. Wealthy business people. By and large, they didn't invest sizable chunks of their personal fortunes in order to create public athletic charities, let alone act as selfless custodians of treasured civic institutions.

Nope, they bought in to get paid. To amp up their investment portfolios and stroke their egos, not necessarily in that order. They're motivated first, foremost and always by personal gain. And that's fine. Fair, even. Unless you're a fan who could care less about owners getting an additional $1 billion of total league revenues -- because really, you just want to watch football.

In that case, you're better off with the Green Bay model.

In 1923, the Packers were nearly bankrupt. The desperate club held a stock sale. Today, the franchise has 112,158 shareholders who own 4.7 million shares. Only none of those individuals receives dividends. They don't even get free tickets.

Instead, all profits are invested back into the team. As such, Green Bay's board of directors is mostly motivated to: (a) remain solvent; (b) field a competitive team. They're not driven to make money for the sake of making more money, and as such, far less likely to risk a short-term, franchise- and community-wide financial hit -- via a no-games, no-revenue lockout that could cost the league an estimated $1 billion or more -- for the sake of surplus cash in ownership's coffers down the road.

So, whether you're rooting for the Steelers or the Packers, tomorrow's game should be a satisfying moment for all of us little people. You don't have to be a plutocrat to make it to the big time.


mlee33 said...

Go commies (I mean Packers)!! LOL

Cletis L. Stump said...

Wisconsin gave us the great Robert Lafollete now they've moved right with a vengeance. Minnesota gave us Hubert Humphrey now Michelle Bachmann. Is the Pack next? Lord, please make them all go away.

Cool blog.