Do you like football? Not the European game with 11 guys a side running around kicking a ball toward a net that is, incidentally, far too big for a defender to be of value but the bone crunching, grid iron, in your face American sport. When you think of American football you think about the Superbowl, big money, big advertizing, big stadiums, big players, big personalities, big everything.
I heard on the news recently that the Green Bay Packers are issuing a new block of stocks in order to make improvements to their stadium; Lambeau Field. First off, since I am not a huge sports follower (and I just crawled out from under a rock) I didn’t know the GBP were publicly owned.
Please bear with me. I also just discovered that they are operated as a non-profit business; however, they are, by law, a for-profit entity because under the State of Wisconsin law non-profits cannot issue stocks. The Green Bay Packers Foundation, the team’s current trust, would be the recipient of all assets should the team be sold and currently manages distribution of a portion of the team’s profits toward programs that benefit their communities. You can read more about that here. The Packers don’t have an owner in the traditional sense of the word. They actually have 112,000 owners, their shareholders, none of whom can hold more than 30% of the team’s value and who do not receive dividends for their shares. In today’s economic climate such an arrangement would normally be considered “way different”.
What’s cool is the unparalleled fan support for the team but what’s really different is the unified nature inherent to their structure. What’s interesting is the result when the fans of a sport have invested their hard earned cash in their team. Invested instead of spent; a much different type of spending than simply investing money on tickets, t-shirts or beer. Further, a portion of concession sales, typically manned by volunteers (what?), goes back into the organization to be distributed to charities and community programs. The by-product is that they are winners and have been for a long time. Green Bay has had 13 championship seasons and they have won the Superbowl title 4 times. Not bad. The fans support the franchise and the organization, in turn, supports the community through community programs contributing to and maintaining the economic viability of the franchise and its community. The fans are winners. The team is a winner. The community wins.
Who does that for football? Or am I missing the point?
What happens to a team when the fans are invested? Let’s look at last season and what’s happening this season. They win. They win because they are unified; unified with each other like family and unified as a nation with their fans. They are the definition of a team. This microcosm is an example what happens when a community or tribe moves in unison and supports the whole through individual action right from the management, the coach, the coaching staff and the players to the investors, the fans and the community. Everyone helps, they all see the forest for the trees and they all have the same tenet in mind; community builds success.
Why are they alone?
Why then would Roger Goodell steer the league away for this model? There is plenty of opinion that states that the opportunity for massive profits outweighs the risk of ownership in NFL football whether it is a single entity or a public entity. Is community not an option? Have the Green bay Packers not proven it is economically viable? It’s funny how the debt and cost of running a professional sports team is so well socialized however the profits are so deeply privatized. I suppose that’s the basic right of ownership. Risk = reward. Capitalism reigns supreme. In our world today our capitalism is under a microscope and #occupywallstreet is catalyzing visibility to the dangers of this system of economics.
It’s not all bad though, is it?
The Packers model is what’s right about capitalism. They know what enough is and understand how to use their influence and economic clout to help their community prosper. As they should and as any corporation should; of their own free will. The Green Bay Packers are an example of corporate citizenship that should be universal and not singular.
Those Cheeseheads are a proud bunch. Go Packers!