Friday, October 22, 2010

Follow-up on the Rooney/Favre Post

So it turns out that Wayne Rooney is staying after all. I don't know what this says about my complaint that the American sports media is starting too look too much like the Fleet Street tabloids. It is interesting that I went for a run this morning and listened to a Guardian podcast in which Kevin McCarra made the point that it's hard to know what's going on in the saga because everybody is lying. That point seems especially salient now.

A few other thoughts:

1. The NFL's stance on Favre illustrates a major difference between American pro sports leagues and the EPL. In the U.S., it's possible for the NFL to suspend a player for legal activity. The commissioners of the major sports leagues have enormous power over their players and franchises. In contrast, the English Premier League has very little power over its teams. The big story across the pond last week was the legal wrangling over the sale of Liverpool to John Henry's New England Sports Ventures. Liverpool were in a financial pickle in the first place because Tom Hicks (owner of the Texas Rangers) and George Gillett (owners of the Montreal Canadiens) bought the club, but had to take out an enormous amount of debt to do so. They dumped that debt onto the club, which meant that Liverpool's operating profits went to interest payments instead of upgrading the squad or building a new stadium at Stanley Park. The EPL either could not or would not prevent Hicks and Gillett from buying the club in a manner that made future problems very likely. Manchester United faces similar problems, as its American owners - the Glazer family of Tampa Bucs fame - took out debt to buy the club and are now paying unsustainable interest rates to maintain ownership. Thus, the two most famous teams in the EPL faced the same issue - crippling debt - because of the EPL's lax stance towards ownership. It's interesting that the U.S. is considered to be more of a free market economy than England, but England's biggest sports league takes a laissez-faire approach to ownership, whereas American sports leagues (and especially the NFL) are tightly regulated.

2. In my defense of Favre, I didn't mention that it is fitting that a guy who clearly seeks out media attention as evidenced by his now-annual summer Hamlet imitation was hoist by his own petard. If you encourage close media scrutiny, then it's probably a good idea to make sure that your personal conduct with withstand the scrutiny. Sending pictures of your jewels is not a good idea, especially when the recipient came to fame in a contrived manner and thus would be exactly the sort of person who would disclose the pictures.

3. As to the sexual harassment angle, there are a variety of reasons why that doesn't seem to hold water (at least when looking at the angle from 30,000 feet). One issue is that Jenn Sterger was probably an independent contractor when working for the Jets. I raised this in the comments and someone asked if her wearing of a Jets jersey would make her an employee. The answer is no, but if you want to know more about the never-ending employee/independent contractor test, this is a good place to start.


Jeff said...

Good post. But I was kidding about Sterger's Jets garb making her an employee--I was just cracking wise that her shirts (with the strategically placed rips) weren't exactly off the rack. I find it amusing that most media reports on the issue gloss over who Sterger is and how she "rose" to prominence. Obviously nobody deserves to be sexually harassed or sent texts of Favre's junk. But it's not like Favre was going after a buttoned-up house wife.

Anonymous said...

The draft is another way that US sports leagues engage in much more managed competition than Euro sports leagues.

Of course, the least "socialist"/managed league just saw the team with one of the lowest payrolls totally dominate the team with the largest payroll (by far!), but that was less a function of the draft than a function of prudent roster management (Cruz, Hamilton, Vlad, and Lee were not Rangers' draft picks, and Lewis just came over from Japan).