The Short Game: In Case You Needed a Reminder, Sports is a Business

The Short Game: In Case You Needed a Reminder, Sports is a Business

Mike Carlson, Spear Contributor

Sports is a business. You know it, I know it, and everyone and their goldfish knows this to be a sports truism. The only truer statement in sports is “The Raiders are an awful football team.” Okay, maybe that’s not entirely true. The Raiders aren’t an awful football team, the Raiders are a really awful football team. But this, contrary to popular belief and my last five columns, is not a piece solely dedicated to ripping on the Silver and Black.

So, back to sports and business.

This past Monday, the former Tampa Bay Rays manager, Joe Maddon, was introduced as the new manager of the not-entirely-hopeless Chicago Cubs. Not only was this move controversial because Maddon was the second member of Rays’ management to leave in as many weeks, but the move also booted manager Rick Renteria after only one season. I’m pretty sure many high school relationships last longer than the grueling 26 week baseball season. Still, the Cubs decided it wasn’t Renteria, it was them and promptly ended their relationship.

The Cubs moved on to a better option and you really can’t blame them. They traded in their Subaru Outback for a brand new Bugatti. They went from perpetual bottom feeder to imminent contender in one move. It was a decision driven by objectivity. It was also the right decision.

This move, while also very monumental in the baseball landscape, reminds us as sports fans that sports is very much a business. Loyalty to a team or player is great and all, but the real loyalty in sports is loyalty to the dollar. Instead of Procter and Gamble, sports gives us Epstein and Hoyer. It’s not Apple CEO Tim Cook, it’s touchdown CEO Peyton Manning. It’s not the Oakland Raiders, it’s Ultimate Electronics.

This business decision wasn’t a financial one for the Cubs (it actually cost them more money). But for the now new North Side manager, it was entirely a financial decision and he will be the first to tell you: the money is in Chicago. And, like the Cubs, you really can’t blame Maddon. He was able to opt out through a rare clause in his contract and I’m not talking Santa Clause; though for Maddon the new five year $25 million deal did feel a bit like Christmas and rightly so. Maddon had been underpaid vastly since he joined the Rays back in 2005. If underpaid means under-appreciated then I’m surprised Maddon’s office with the Rays wasn’t out back next to the dumpster.

Don’t get me wrong. There is still a chance this business decision may go down next to Coca-Cola’s decision to introduce New Coke. For all we know, Renteria could be good ole Coke Classic. But, that’s the risk with decisions of this caliber.

Money has always been king in sports. Granted, now in this world of Twitter and ESPN it’s a little more obvious than it used to be. Money, in the world of sports, is the better prom date. I can’t elaborate much here on that idea. My prom date gave me mono. Like it or leave it, money is part of sports. So, play ball!