Pandemic Journal (# 9 ): Confessions of a Sports Fan

I always have considered myself as a moderate sports fan. I follow the Minnesota Twins major-league baseball team. Last year when they were playing so well, winning the Central Division of the American League and setting a major-league record for the most home runs in a season (307) by a team, I went to about five games at nearby Target Field and watched many more on television. I also follow the Minnesota Vikings professional football team and watched most of their games on television; none in person at their new First Bank Stadium. To a lesser extent, last year I also followed the University of Minnesota football team (“the Gophers”), when they played so well.

Now that the professional and university basketball seasons were terminated because of the pandemic as was the start of the professional baseball season, I have no major withdrawal symptoms. The “sports section” of the local newspaper (the StarTribune) has been reduced to publishing articles about important games from past seasons and new articles about movies and books about sports. Boring!

The other sports news about professional football’s free-agent signings and plans for its upcoming draft of colleges players focuses on the huge salaries and extra cash involved for players I have never heard of. And the NFL’s decision to add another game to each team’s season and two more teams to the playoffs is driven by increasing the league and team’s revenues. Another development driven by the huge amounts of money that are involved. All of that turns me off and makes me wonder whether this is a general reaction that will lead to a decline in popularity of professional football.

Professional basketball has the same money-driven culture with some university players choosing to leave their teams early and “go pro” driven by their desire to make huge amounts of money. Some college players switch universities to enhance their ability to be drafted by a professional team and make more money.

University sports also are under the umbrella of huge amounts of money from television of their games and the large salaries of their coaches. The highest current salary of a major university head football coach is $9.3 million for Clemson University.[1]

The salary of the University of Minnesota’s head football coach, P.J. Fleck, on the other hand, is “only” $3.8 million for 37th place in the national rankings of such compensation.

The Gophers’ Athletic Department does not have the largest budget in the U.S., but is still projecting that it will lose $10 million in revenue (best case) to $75 million (worst case) from different forecasts of cancellations of major sports due to the pandemic.  Again, money is the mover and shaker.[2]

No longer, at the university level, are sports played for the love of the game and pride in the university.  As a result of these financial factors in sports, the intensity of this sports fan has declined even further.

===========================

[1] NCAA, NCAA  Salaries.

[2] E.g., Scoggins, Gophers’ athletic budget concerns signal a complete restructuring of college sports, StarTribune (April 9, 2020).

 

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As a retired lawyer and adjunct law professor, Duane W. Krohnke has developed strong interests in U.S. and international law, politics and history. He also is a Christian and an active member of Minneapolis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church. His blog draws from these and other interests. He delights in the writing freedom of blogging that does not follow a preordained logical structure. The ex post facto logical organization of the posts and comments is set forth in the continually being revised “List of Posts and Comments–Topical” in the Pages section on the right side of the blog.

4 thoughts on “Pandemic Journal (# 9 ): Confessions of a Sports Fan”

  1. Just gave a talk on Economic Inequality to a call at U Maryland. Started with this:
    Example of Income Inequality
    Max Scherzer – Washington Nationals, $42.1 million; minimum salary for Class A player in Nat system, $2,500
    Nick Saben, Alabama coach, $11.25 million; NCAA scholarship football player, tuition, books room and board.
    Then I had some business CEO data
    Ralph Craft

    1. Responding to Sports’ Pandemic-Related Reduced Revenues

      As we all know, the current pandemic has caused, and will continue to cause, cancellations
      of major university and professional sport events and thus their revenues. How should universities respond to those reductions when other parts of the institutions also are suffering?

      Patrick Reusse, a sports columnist for Minnesota’s StarTribune, has the right answer. Reduce the head football coach’s $4.6 million salary. Reduce the “ever-growing football support staff.” Reduce the number of permissible scholarships for football players. “The first post-virus gouge in athletic budgets should come in football—at Minnesota and across the Power Five landscape.” I concur.

      The “Power Five” refers to five major conferences of football teams that are granted some autonomy by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA): Atlantic,Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and Southeastern. The University of Minnesota is a member of the Big Ten.

      ==========================

      Reusse, Budget cuts for Gophers? Start with football, StarTribune (April 11, 2020) https://www.startribune.com/budget-cuts-for-gophers-start-with-football/569571402/

      Group of Five conferences, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Group_of_Five_conferences

    2. The income inequality in sports mirrors that of the private sector. Since the National minimum wage was set at $7.25 in 2009, about one-third of the States have used that number for their State minimum wage. On the other hand the Dow Jones industrials have risen from 8,952 in 2009 to over 25,000 in April 2020, an increase of over 150%,

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