I come in to work every day at 9 a.m. and it really seems to be a lot of the same bland mundaneness that a lot of people experience in their every day desk job lives that we so graciously enjoy having. There is someone making coffee, some business-related conversations happening on the phone, and many other people typing away such as myself currently. The problem with all of this is not the uniformity of the work place, or this great idea that the ballpark is a great place to spend your free time, its mostly about what is going on underneath the surface of the team and the business itself.
We all too often forget that baseball is indeed a business. This romanticism of the sport and the dying love the fans have for it drown out the cold harsh realities that people must face when it comes to running a professional sports team. Fans tend to be more interested in winning (rightfully so) than whether or not their favorite sports team is making a profit at the year's end. Something to realize too, building from that point is that a lot of the times these things do not go hand in hand as well. Which puts owners and upper management in an uncomfortable position when it comes to putting a good product on the field to draw people and make a profit. This situation can lead to events that effectively stagnate the growth of a franchise, or even kill a franchise, if not handled correctly. In a lot of circumstances, these businesses do not handle it correctly.
I think we as fans do not really think about the structure of the business that not just baseball is but all professional sports. Major-league franchises can control a lot of different areas where they profit from proper sales and marketing techniques. However, once you get to the minor leagues and even the independent leagues around the United States, you start to see something a little different. In all honesty, minor league sports are no different than an exotic club you can take your children to. They make you pay to get in and then they provide entertainment and overpriced goods that you must buy because you were not allowed to bring your own in. Oh yeah, and no flash photography.
I guess the point I am trying to make is that in a lot of situations these teams solely rely on getting people through the door to make profit because they do not have the overarching abilities to sell things like merchandise online to fans around the nation. Which is what brings me to the whole reason I wrote this article. I currently work for an independent baseball team, and on our opening night we drew 454 people. Our stadium seats 4,000+ and that’s all we could draw. Now, granted, there is more to the story about poor ownership and business skills, but the fact of the matter is that people are not coming through the gates to see games. Why? In this industry if you are no longer interesting to the Fairweather fans that come from being an independent baseball team, you do not sell tickets.
Reflecting on all of this, seeing the fact that my team is falling apart at the seams, and we no longer can afford to operate under these circumstances, I am glad I learned what not to do going forward when I am placed in a similar situation to this in any business setting. So often we let ourselves fall in love with the beautiful game that is baseball, and the problem with that is that we cannot allow ourselves to manage our teams purely blinded by the love of this sport.