Saturday, April 01, 2023

THE CHEAP SEATS with STEVE CAMERON: How rich owners are ruining sports all over the world

| May 12, 2021 1:25 AM

Why are billionaires so stupid?


Let me clarify that.

Why are billionaire team owners so stupid?

Watching the bizarre decisions and strange antics provided by these so-called titans of sport, you find yourself wondering how they made all that money in the first place.

Yes, I know…

Some simply inherited it.

Or, as a longtime friend of mine likes to say, they got lucky that their fathers were born before they were.

Another terrific business move, though, is marrying into the big bucks.

Stan Kroenke, grand poobah of the Rams (and several other pro teams), removed all financial stress when he married Ann Walton — she of the Walmart Waltons.

Stan fits right in with his brethren owners in the NFL, where it is considered a divine right to print money at will.

Stuffing an NFL club into your portfolio is akin to taking over a top-of-the-line Vegas casino.

The house always wins.

NOW, LET’S look at the gaggle of billionaires in Major League Baseball.


These are the characters who cannot manage to reach any kind of agreement with their players union.

With the future of the sport hanging by a fingernail — TV numbers down, no interest from an entire generation — the owners are still happy to fight over everything.



A tiny rule change.

A mandated day off.

Trust me on this: We’ll be incredibly lucky to see uninterrupted baseball in 2022, because the collective bargaining agreement expires after this season.

We should be talking about whether Mike Trout could make history by hitting .400, or about the debut later this week of the Mariners’ thrilling young outfielder, Jarred Kelenic.

Instead, we’re thinking ahead to ’22 and wondering if the billionaires will screw it up — because they think they’re as bullet-proof as the NFL.

If somebody ever tells these rich suits the truth, they aren’t hearing it.

NOW, IN case we haven’t offered enough proof that billionaire owners often can’t find their backsides with both hands and flashlight…

Have you followed the brief life and death of soccer’s European Super League?

Maybe it finally got your attention when Manchester United fans turned a protest against American owner Joel Glazer (whose family also owns the Tampa Bay Bucs) into something close to a full-blown riot.

There are three Yank owners in the English Premier League — Glazer, Kroenke (Arsenal), and John Henry of Red Sox fame (Liverpool).

Of course, the three U.S. bosses saw no problem with joining nine other clubs — including three more from England — in joining a league designed to thumb its nose at current domestic set-ups, as well as European competition run under the umbrella of UEFA.

ALL SIX breakaway English clubs are owned by foreigners, and they misjudged how the rest of the planet sees footy — just as all those other 7.7 billion don’t grasp American sports.

They see our games for what they are, a money grab.

You basically CAN’T lose a dollar in the NFL, not if you worked at it, because unlike soccer worldwide…

Even if you’re crap, you can’t be relegated.

Culture upheaval ensued as this Super League was announced, fans went nuts and protested (especially) against the Americans, and…

Just 48 hours later, the new league was dead and everyone was apologizing.

John Henry did a weak-sounding mea culpa for Liverpool fans that, honestly, looked almost exactly like an ISIS hostage video.

MAN U and Arsenal were already facing ongoing protests at what fans perceived as use of these historic clubs as little more than cash cows.

The Glazers have put $1.2 billion of United’s cash into their pockets — personal “fees” for nothing at all — while the club currently is still about $800 million in debt.




Oh, because the Glazers (and Kroenke in London) used the clubs themselves as collateral for their loans to join the game in the first place.

Two points here…

First, is it part of the billionaire DNA that you don’t care if entire cities, countries and fan bases in the hundreds of millions despise you?

Well, Kroenke was once voted “The Most Hated Man in St. Louis” after moving the Rams to L.A. from his home state of Missouri — and he never looked back, like a gold digger with a new lover.

Second, do any of these mega-rich bozos have advisers? You’d swear there should be experts around to tell them, “Sir, they are threatening to tear down the stadium, with you inside it.”

There is just no logical explanation for such combinations of arrogance and stupidity.

The best we can do is retreat to the famous words of F. Scott Fitzgerald: “The rich are different from you and me.”

Yes, they are.

And just as poorly advised.


Steve Cameron’s “Cheap Seats” columns appear in The Press on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. “Moments, Memories and Madness,” his reminiscences from several decades as a sports journalist, runs each Sunday.

Steve also writes Zags Tracker, a commentary on Gonzaga basketball which is published monthly during the offseason.

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