This would not happen in other countries. If the Clippers were a soccer club, they would have been relegated years ago and a better-run team would have sprung up to capture part of the L.A. market. For instance, the English Premier League equivalent of the Clippers is Newcastle United. Newcastle is a reasonably large city in the north of England. The club have a famously devoted fan base that packs more than 50,000 bums into St. James Park 19 times per season. Unfortunately, Newcastle are run by muppets. They have gone through a series of inept decision-makers who populated the club with expensive albatrosses. As a result, Newcastle slid down the table gradually, going from a contender in the EPL in the mid-90s and a Champions League participant in 2002-03 to being relegated from the EPL this May. Newcastle were punished for bad management, whereas the L.A. Clippers are not.
My point is this: American sports are not now and have never been an exercise in capitalist, free market activity. Our pro sports leagues are heavily socialized, from the fact that there is no promotion and relegation to salary/spending controls to revenue sharing. If the BCS violates the Sherman Antitrust Act because it treats the six major conferences and Notre Dame better than it treats the five smaller conferences, then what do we say about the NFL, NBA, and Major League Baseball? If I were a wealthy man who wanted to start and fund a pro football team in Columbus, Ohio because Ohioans love football and their two NFL franchises are pathetic, I would not be able to do so because the NFL restricts the number and location of its franchises. My only option would be to find like-minded rich people/entities to start a competing league, an option that is also available to the Mountain West Conference if there was, you know, a major market for their product.
And while we're on the subject of the BCS, I heartily co-sign on
Tony Barnhart's evisceration of Orrin Hatch's position. Here is the highlight for me:
Fact: Utah was not DENIED a chance to play for the BCS national championship. Utah had as much a chance to play for the BCS title as any other school. But 175 people voted in the Harris Interactive and coaches polls, two of the three components in the BCS formula. The 114 people in the Harris poll voted Utah seventh. The 61 coaches in the USA Today poll also voted Utah seventh and no coach—NONE—voted Utah higher than No. 5. Of the 114 people who voted in the Harris Poll only five voted Utah No. 5 or better.
Fact: Even the coaches in Utah’s league, the Mountain West, did not step up for the Utes when it counted. Joe Glenn of Wyoming had Utah at No. 5. Rocky Long of New Mexico and Gary Patterson of TCU had them at No. 7. Kyle Whittingham, Utah’s own coach, had his team at No. 5.
It's a little hard for Senator Hatch to make a compelling case that the Utes were screwed when their own coach did not think that they were good enough to play for the national title. There we go again, expecting logic from a grand-standing politician who is trying to score points at home.