Hockey season is upon us. The tellers in my bank wear game day jerseys. People refer to their team in the possessive — “we” — despite the fact that the only contribution individuals make is to buy sufficient gear and tickets to enrich the owners sufficiently to pay the salaries of better players.
So why don’t we up the ante on that? Let’s pool our money and buy a team. Our team.
It’d cost millions. But each team has millions of fans. I’ll bet enough people would plunk down the money to foot the bill. And then some.
Make it voluntary. No tax money. You’re in or you’re out. Your choice. In for as much as you like. Up to a certain maximum. A hundred bucks a share. A hundred share maximum per person. No rich guy gets to control everything.
Each co-owner gets one vote per share. The coach still gets to coach with autonomy. But hirings, firings, trades and salaries — those are cooperatively made decisions. Let’s put the extensive knowledge of sports fans to use.
None of the players come from the city they play for. But suddenly major decisions would reflect the collective intelligence, will, and financial clout of the people of that city and province. Including ex-pats. The team would actually represent the city for a change.
Move the opinions flying around bars, living rooms, and call-in shows to bi-weekly shareholder meetings. In a stadium. And/or online. You’d have to limit the number of people who speak. And how long they can speak. Then everybody votes. Majority rules. No appeals. If the group makes a bad decision, learn from that. Vote another way next time.
This could work. It could spread to other sports. Imagine cooperatively owned and run NFL teams, NBA teams, MLB teams, FIFA teams.
Think of the potential for individual empowerment — the obsessive sports fan finally freed from his impotence to influence the fate of his team.
Other issues could be raised at these meetings. Parking regulations. Public safety. Sanitation. Food health standards. Fast, cheap, frequent, accessible transit. Education — more money to schools means better athletic programs, which means a bigger talent pool for the team. Social programs, to clean up the part of town where the stadium is. Public services — making sure the streets are clear so the fans can get to games. Get that post-game litter picked up. Punish public pissing. Or legalize it.
This would create a powerful lobby, informed about and interested in relevant issues in their city. They’d be more aware of city council’s decisions, and the mayor’s policies. They’d have a voice, and speak loudly. Democracy could be more than a spectator sport at last.
So stop living vicariously through your team. Buy them. It’ll change everything.