July 09, 2008

Dave Zirin interviews Ralph Nader: about the idea of a fan's bill of rights, the NBA referees' scandal, and the still-growing dangers of taxpayer-funded stadiums.

Before Ralph Nader was the guy no one wanted to be stuck talking to at the Presidential Election party, he was one of the most important consumer watchdogs the United States ever had. Here, the always-excellent Dave Zirin brings out the childhood Lou Gehrig fan in him, and lets the erstwhile politician get a few things off his chest.

posted by chicobangs to culture at 01:27 PM - 6 comments

Regardless of what you think of Nader as a politician, there is a lot of truth in what he says in this interview.

There are much more serious problems affecting people in our country, in our community and in our world, to be sure. But people deserve a sanctuary where they can trust what's going on is going to be based on the merits and not influence-peddling or shenanigans of various sorts, and that's sports. One reason people are attracted to sports is because things happen on the merits. Teams win or lose on the merits of their players and coaches and managers. When that trust is betrayed, you can see that there's a real letdown among the fans.

posted by chicobangs at 01:29 PM on July 09, 2008

How would a fan's bill of right work? Would that be a federal law or something dictated locally? The problem is that sports teams can up and leave anytime a city wants to change the balance of power. That's what happened in Seattle.

posted by bperk at 02:15 PM on July 09, 2008

It would require not just legislation (though that would help) but a change in the paradigm. Owners extorting tax money out of municipalities to pay for stadia is a story as old as time, and fans have too much invested emotionally and financially to just let these people walk, so they capitulate every time. Now that it's worked in Seattle, every other owner in the NBA can do exactly the same thing, holding Seattle over their local legislature. It sucks, hard, but the city whose citizens put their foot down is the city whose citizens wind up without a team to cheer for. I don't give MLB, NFL or NBA a dime of my money anymore for exactly that reason. I don't miss them, and they clearly don't miss me. So short answer, I don't know how to fix it.

posted by chicobangs at 03:32 PM on July 09, 2008

Community ownership of teams? That would make sure they wouldn't leave town, and might even justify a degree of municipal funding along the lines of other services provided to local businesses/non profits. But maybe I'm an old fashioned socialist dinosaur.

posted by owlhouse at 05:29 PM on July 09, 2008

As for community ownership, seems there was an ultra-small-market that bought their team long ago and have done pretty well. What are the chances that Green Bay Wis. could get an NFL franchise today? Los Angeles is the only town I can think of that might be able to make that work today. But as to the NBA, these teams are becoming vagabonds as they try to blackmail their markets with threats of leaving and the markets reply, "Whatever." I'm here in NC and by the time the Hornets left for New Orleans everybody in two states were so tired of George Shinn's act there were volunteers to drive the bus. Had Hurricane Katrina not made New Orleans a basket case and a national story there's a good chance Shinn woiuld have beaten the Sonics to Oklahoma City, having gotten all he could out of the Big Easy. David Stern needs to look at what his OWNERS are doing and maybe focus less on what the players wear on airplanes.

posted by gradioc at 07:29 PM on July 09, 2008

What are the chances that Green Bay Wis. could get an NFL franchise today? Nil. And the NFL prohibits the Packers' model of ownership for other teams. Now, the 'sporting club' model of Spanish football has its flaws, but better that than being bought up by a dodgy foreign tycoon. It's a paradigmatic model, but it needs legislative assistance. Why can't a major league team be bought out by its fans? Shouldn't that option be part of the deal to locate a franchise: that if the ownership is no longer committed, first refusal goes to a fan-led consortium?

posted by etagloh at 05:39 PM on July 11, 2008

You're not logged in. Please log in or register.