Ratto: Patience… and boredom and anger take the lead at the top of the stretch

When it comes to sports, the bottom line is the bottom line

Ray Ratto
May 21, 2020 - 12:05 pm
Ratto: In sports, the bottom line is the bottom line

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports


Sports is not a microcosm of society not this society, anyway. What sports is, is a microcosm of it's own business practices.

In the last several days, we have seen every sport (except hockey, which apparently works on its own time line) thoughtfully provide projections on how much money its prime league would lose with no games, and alternately with no crowds, as if the central reason for sports was to keep the wealthy getting wealthier.

Well, okay. Now we know. You've been watching Giants games out of an overriding concern for Charlie Johnson. That 49ers jersey you bought for your kids has a "YORK" nameplate over the 10. If you try to buy Warrior tickets, you ask to be seated in the Lacob section.

And yet until now, you couldn't be bothered to know the names of five other team owners even in your favorite sport. You may dislike the Seattle Seahawks but you have no idea who is actually the top name (it's Jody Allen, daughter of the late Paul Allen, and shame on you for Googling, you cheat).

But you're supposed to worry about their bottom lines now. It's supposed to freak you out that they won't be making the same money they're used to making, for one calendar year. On the professional level, the 149 North American teams (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, MLS) could carry every employee they did at peak times without furloughs or pay cuts or layoffs and and only be minimally impacted.

College operations are different, if you believe the argument that more than half of the 65 Power 5 schools don't have enough reserves to cover expenses, according to a Syracuse University study from 2017 (hmmm, sounds like some folks at Syracuse could kill a few weeks of work updating this). It speaks to the notion that a lot of athletic departments got too addicted to the heroin of football.

In any event, sports conversation has shifted in the past few days away from health and safety toward financial squeezes for people who ought to be well insulated against them. That is what drives the sudden rush toward June as America's restart date that, and our addiction to schedules.

And all of this is proof of xxxxx separante pathologies sports fans have, and seem to be wearing particularly proudly these days.

1. We don't do patience. A day is a lifetime, a week an era. World War II lasted 43 months. The 1918 pandemic lasted 15 months. We lost our will to adhere to best practices in two months.

2. We have trust issues when it comes to the people who are smarter than us, at least when it comes to our health. We actually would rather be stupid and in danger.

3. We think we all need sports when all we are finding out is that those who really like it have declared it an actual need. The last Super Bowl attracted 110,000,000 over all available platforms, meaning that 225,000,000 couldn't have been arsed to pay attention. We just miss the needle, that's all.

4. We worry about our billionaires to a disturbing level, or are being told we should. Back in the day, if a team owner was in danger of going broke, another owner would occasionally front them money if their survival were important to the other owners. The Raiders would not exist today if former Bills owner Ralph Wilson hadn't fronted them $400,000 in 1961. It is unclear whether he was ever repaid, but there should be a statue of him outside Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. Now we are asked to fret about profit that they have to forgo for a year instead of wondering why they get to have the business model where they make all the profit and make everyone else cover the losses.

5. And finally, we can't tell the difference between a documentary and an autobiography because we believe in the value of disingenuous phrases like "my truth." Michael Jordan told his truth, and people seemed to like it. He also was very territorial about pizza, a character flaw that in a just society would come with jail time.

And because we are fairminded about all things, there is this one shining light from the pandemic:

How 'bout them NC Dinos!

See? We  all have our shames. We just need to  be adult enough to cop to them as the embarrassments they are.

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