Here is Daniel Gross's must-read review of Franklin Foer's must-read new book, How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization. Regular readers of this blog will no doubt sense that Foer, Gross, and Sauer share similar points of view:
In 1986, Foer writes, then-Congressman Jack Kemp opposed an anodyne congressional resolution to support U.S. efforts to play host to the 1994 World Cup: 'a distinction should be made that football is democratic, capitalism, whereas soccer is a European socialist [sport],' the former quarterback said.
But Kemp got it exactly backward. For when you look at the business of professional sports in both Europe and the United States, American sports are virtually all socialistic while the European soccer leagues more closely resemble the entrepreneurial capitalism we Americans fetishize.
...The Austrian-born economist Joseph Schumpeter—a tennis player, not a soccer fan—developed the concept of creative destruction, the touchstone of American-style capitalism. Schumpeter famously likened the elites of a society to a hotel, one in which rooms are always occupied but by an ever-changing roster of guests. The hotel concept almost precisely describes the soccer leagues of Europe. Every year, the worst-performing teams—three in England, four in Italy—check out. Relegated, they must play the following year in the next-lower division. Meanwhile, ambitious upstarts who have succeeded at lower levels check in. They are promoted.
...By contrast, the American professional leagues are like a Marriott Residence Inn—once you're allowed to check in, you never have to leave. There's no great punishment for consistently propping up the standings year after year. Yes, the market value of losing teams often suffers in comparison to those of winning teams. But once you're a member of the cartel, there's a floor under the price. The Montreal Expos, despite decades of gross mismanagement, these days by Major League Baseball itself, were valued at $113 million last year, according to Forbes.
Well stated. I'd like to see baseball's barons make the case that their system is the one that is best for American fans (and not just assert it as Kemp did). Fat chance!
Thanks to Aleksandar Tomic for the tip.