Volume 94, Issue 88
Thursday, March 8, 2001
The future of sports as we know it
Special to Sports
I present to you the true conspiracy theory of professional athletics and its major leagues in the coming years.
Following the trend of globalization, the National Hockey League, Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association and the National Football League will grow their expansion on a worldwide scale.
The further homogeneous culture shift of 'Americanization' will allow these bodies to grow and prosper into otherwise obscure markets. Small market teams will be non-existent and only population bases of three million plus will be able to afford and provide the volume for said franchises.
Conglomeration among the four big sports will go hand-in-hand with this extensive expansion. The joining of the four leagues will allow seasons to be tailored to do away with any competition among the leagues.
Restricting seasons and play-offs to three months, hockey will run from January to the end of March. Basketball will last from April until June. Baseball will once again be the 'game of summer,' lasting July through September, and football will round out the year in sports will be from October to December.
'Uniting the clans' so to speak, will shorten schedules, concentrate profits without fighting for audience entertainment dollars, and bring back the excitement sometimes lost in the present state of never-ending seasons.
The 'Mario Lemieux,' as it will soon be known, will see the phenomenon of more and more all-star athletes investing their multi-million dollar sporting contracts back into the teams for which they play.
Increasing the stake of those franchise players who truly make a difference on how the teams perform will accomplish two things currently plaguing professional sports all-stars, after obtaining huge salaries, will be forced to keep their level of play up because of the business of the team as a whole. As well, fewer 'Wayne Gretzky to Los Angeles' moves will occur because of established corporate ties.
The other side of ownership will be handled by the fan base itself, as all teams will be opened up in initial public offerings. The Sport Stock Exchange will relieve the 'burden' of private owners worrying about sky rocketing costs and allow trading to value teams on the market as a whole.
An investing fan base will create more of a vested interest in the 'home town team' and any failure or success will lie in the efforts of the community as a whole. This SSE will also do away with the fear of franchise relocation that has ripped teams out of the hearts of cities in the past.
With growing population levels and the restructuring of league durations, major world locations housing two, three and even four franchises will build 'Coliseum-esque' stadiums to house all of the major sports offered within these core cities.
These mega-complexes will save building costs and valuable real-estate in core areas, increase capacity levels to meet every supply need demanded and more importantly, bring down ticket costs ending the long-time gouging of fans.
This is the future of sports in theory, that is.
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