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Mark Cuban, Counter-example to Zirin’s “Bad Sports”

Bad Sports: How Owners Are Ruining The Games We Love
Dave Zirin
Scribner (July 2010)

Dave Zirin is a controversial writer and radio personality by nature, but his book Bad Sports: How Owners Are Ruining The Games We Love was a thoughtful, well-researched piece on the legitimate reasons why fans in major sports towns are frustrated with the people who own their teams.

Besides talking to many fans in various cities, Zirin uses facts to back up his discussion on how and why owners are taking the teams fans love and root for and making it less about those fans and more about profit.

Zirin gives multiple examples of owners who took over their teams and hold a general disinterest in not only the success of those teams (outside of where it concerns making a profit) but also in pleasing the fans who support it. No matter the city or the sport, these owners have acquired teams and helped to make it so the fans find it difficult to attend games due to anything from rising ticket prices to picking up the team and moving it when the owners don’t get what they want.

This review comes at a particularly interesting time as the Dallas Mavericks have just won their first championship in the team’s history under owner Mark Cuban. A maverick in his own right, Cuban has always taken the unconventional route to ownership. Though some think his ways are cocky, the chairman of HDNet graces the American Airlines Center in T-shirts, jeans and sneakers, holding $4 in his pocket and joking around with fans and players alike.

Not always the smartest of owners, Cuban stood out for his abrasive approach but has been knowledgeable enough about the game to maintain Dirk Nowitzki and putting pieces around him that led to a 2011 NBA championship.

More importantly then his success on the court, Cuban is a passionate fan. Sitting courtside on any given night and hugging every Maverick jersey-wearer on Miami’s home court following Game 6, Cuban stands out for loving the team he owns. Outside of the Green Bay Packers example Zirin highlights in the outro of his book — a tactic now banned by the National Football League — Cuban is the closest any professional league comes to “community ownership,” an owner who actually cares about the downfalls and successes of his team.

Cuban went so far as to not speak to the media during the playoffs for fear of jinxing his team with his exuberance (for which I am sure the team now thanks him).

Zirin provided an interesting, information-rich book on the wrongdoings of team owners. And though it is clear what path Zirin wishes leagues and sports franchises to head toward, his writing rings true and intelligently. Perhaps the current lockout (NFL) and impending lockout (NBA) will force these leagues to reevaluate the current landscape and consider alternative sources of income that can both please the fans and players while also satisfying everyone’s pockets.


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