An online marketing consultant, an avid reader of 400 + books a year. Professional reader, reviewer, and blogger. Enjoy ARCs and new releases.
The Story of Sports and Money, and the Visionaries Who Fought to Create a Revolution
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: 4/26/2016
My Rating: 4 Stars
A special thank you to Simon & Schuster and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Bold impressive cover!
Matthew Futterman, a senior special writer for sports with theWall Street Journal; who better to tell readers of this incredible journey-PLAYERS, The Story of Sports and Money, and the Visionaries Who Fought to Create a Revolution a well-researched, gripping and insightful look at "big business" American professional sports industry.
From the fifties to the essential shift in the 1960s, with the first eight decades of the twentieth century—a profession largely one of exploitation—to its driving force today. How we arrived.
Timely, and newsworthy, a story of sports, history, revenues, power, money, greed—those courageous individuals who helped make the rise of modern sports, and its transformation to today. A wide-ranging cast of characters, from athletes, agents, TV executives, and league officials who together created the dominating andmultifaceted sports industry.
Futterman delves into the history as far back as Mark McCormack with his simple ideas. "Sports stars were about athletes." They needed gasoline to make them go. People wanted to connect with them. They were a salable commodity that was being undervalued, and by doing so, the industry was preventing these athletes and the sports from being as good as they could be. They were being held back in so many areas.
McCormack wasn’t about just higher salaries for athletes. He wanted to uncover ways to enrich the clients he represented. His philosophy was about creating an environment where television networks could give fans the convenience of watching competitions, from all over the world, in the comfort of their homes.
More control and freedom-leaving athletes more time for training, ultimately improving quality of the competition—more valuable to the industry as a whole as well as the entertainment industry. More from leagues and event organizers to invest in the experience for fans, stadiums, arenas, and be able to charge higher prices. He was determined to make life better for everyone.
The first part of the book is focused on Mark McCormack, (the man who invented sports), a Cleveland lawyer who moved into the full time sport agent, starting with Arnold Palmer, with much success. (my favorite part). For those who are fans, and history buffs, will enjoy the nostalgia, back as early as the late fifties. Being a Georgia girl, enjoyed the connection in Atlanta.
Readers also learn of McCormack’s childhood; two loves: golf and making money—which I found fascinating. He desired a way to combine them. Using his experience, he could represent a professional golfer the same way as he represented other clients. We learn how this came about with a simple handshake, the legend- and an integral part in changing the history of sports and its players.
We also learn about Roger Staubach, (Henry S. Miller --being from a commercial real estate media background, Staubach, now Jones Lang LaSalle-a former client of mine). A success story-Staubach joined the Dallas Cowboys in 1969 as a 27-year-old rookie with a salary of $25,000. In comparison to a quarterback today making $18 million a year!
From Palmer and golf to baseball pitcher James “Catfish” Hunter. Where the name meant something. The image sells. From the challenges, the ups and downs, politics to McCormack’s death in 2003.
Beyond the numbers, the lesson he taught the world’s greatest athletes and the corporations—they represented the essence of sports. They needed to be empowered. By empowering them, he allowed them to transform modern sports. He set into motion, a path which continues today.
From here we shift into baseball, tennis, soccer, basketball and football. From Olympics, endorsements, contracts, media, royalties, Nike, IMG, ESPN, NFL, and networks--to the big business of Major League sports today—from athletes, greed, and power.
As Futterman reiterates, money in sports isn’t on its own, a bad thing. But when money becomes the motivating goal and main purpose in sports-- a bad thing. When a player whose sneaker contracts is more important than his team’s win total, and therefore bad for an owner or a league whose teams become little than a commodity to be traded for a big-pay television contract. From enablers, handlers, corporate sponsors—anyone in the position of power—exploitation.
What about the fans who have sustained the industry for a century and a half—the ability to enjoy the games the love and the athletes they admire without getting ripped off, lied to, or insulted by either the athletes, who play the sports or the people who run them. A fan’s love of sports is precious, unique, and not something to be trifled with, or used as a tool.
PLAYERS A "must read" for all sport enthusiasts, from a writer with the credentials and expertise to tell the "insider (behind the scenes)" story--- from entertainment business, media, historic, financial, economics; interviews, research, to exclusive and engaging content!
"An athlete cannot run with money in his pockets. He must run with hope in his heart and dreams in his head." -Emil Zatopek 1952 Olympic Champion