The business model I floated a year or so ago (sadly on April Fool's
Day) gives visiting teams a % of local revenue, based on attendance.
That'd probably create a happy-medium between the two forces.

But more to your point, I'm starting to believe that the idea of a "big
market team" in sports is something of a fiction. Instead, "big
market" is synonymous with "historically and currently good team who
doesn't go into debt." The last part creates some honestly _small_
market teams -- see anything team a dairy state -- but note how few
true big-market teams there are, and what sets them apart:
1) The Lakers are clearly a big market team. The Clippers, who share a
home-court with them, aren't.
2) The Philadelphia Eagles (NFL) were a regularly competitive team
before the salary cap. The 76ers (NBA) and Phillies (MLB) were both
considered failing, small market teams until recently.
3) The Nets play in the same complex as the Giants and Jets (NFL).
4) The Portland Trailblazers are considered a regular contender in the
NBA. Portland is so small it has no football or baseball team,
although it may have the latter in the future.
5) The Dolphins are a football institution. The Heat have been mostly
competitive throughout their history. The Florida Marlins are the
prototypical "poor" team.
6) No one would have a problem with a White Sox/Cubs world series, even
though they're both clearly "large market" teams.
7) Detroit made the NBA finals three years in a row, pre-cap and pre-
Jordan era (1988-1990), winning two. The Lions (NFL) and Tigers (MLB)
are perhaps two of the worst teams in recent sports history. (The
Pistons of the NBA, on the other hand, have been doing well over the
last few years).

The idea that large markets exist seem more to be a function of the
team than the city itself. So, if you have a dynasty, it'll draw
eyeballs, _even if it's in the bumbles._

The best example is the Detroit run in the NBA. In their third year,
they played Portland, with, if I recall correctly, better ratings than
they had the two years before (versus the Lakers).

But more importantly, remember that these finals were projected (after
game 2) to have the worst ratings since 1982. (As it turned out, they
had the worst ratings since they've been recorded.) Who played in
the '82 Finals? The Lakers beat the Sixers, 4-2. Note that the two
teams had faced each other in 1980 with the same result (although LA
had a different coach) and would face each other _again_ in 1983.
In '83, the Sixers won 4-0, and the ratings were better.

The best explanation is that fan base has a significant lag time to it,
especially as you get to smaller markets. Combine that with the fact
that the one team that had been to the finals the year before (NJ) was
a huge underdog and didn't put up much of a fight, and this series was
doomed to lose to Joe Millionaire.

So, the problem isn't that we want to give small market teams a
chance. The problem is that leagues dislike dynasties, but dynasties
are good for them.

Dan Lewis

At 01:31 PM 7/10/2003 -0500, you wrote:

Playoffs between small market teams get low ratings, like the New Jersey
Nets/San Antonio Spurs championship game. But a lot people inside sports
seem to resent big market teams (Yankees, LA Lakers) consistently
dominating the play-offs, although audiences seem to want dynasties from
big cities.

Is there an inherent problem here? Is it inevitable that there is a
conflict between people inside sports who want to see some diversity among
the winners? Is big league team sports inherently biased towards the
dynasty model? Are there viable business models for team sports that could
produce a wider range of winners?


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