Tag Archives: Francisco Perez

American Sports & Socialist Possibilities

By Francisco Perez

Sandlot Ball 1923

Sandlot Baseball, c. 1923

Sports and politics analyst Nate Silver made headlines last year when he called American sports ‘socialist’ and European sports ‘capitalist’. There’s a good discussion to be had there. In most European soccer[1] leagues, the richest teams win every year while the poorest teams fight to stave off relegation[2], or demotion to a lower level.  In contrast, American sports teams have mechanisms which distribute income around and create a (more) level playing field than European soccer. As a rough analogy, European sports structures are to American sports structures as free market capitalism is to Scandinavian social democracy, with attendant inequality greater in the former.  In all of these sports, some teams have the advantage of being in larger markets. In setting up a competitive structure, the league has to decide how much, if at all, to level the playing field.  American sports leagues— the militaristic, patriotic NFL being the most successful—set up a structure where small market teams are more likely to compete.  The publicly owned Green Bay (population 300,000) Packers won the Super Bowl in 2010, while the New York (population 9 million) Jets have not won since 1968. Read more