If you're as much of a sports fanatic as I am, you've no doubt wondered what it would be like to own your own franchise. As the former owner of a semi-semi-semi-semi
-pro croquet team, I can tell you firsthand: It feels pretty good.
OK, so not every sports-franchise ownership involves big money. But as I learned while writing my new book, "The Renegade Sportsman
" -- an investigation into the fanatical underbelly of this country's sporting culture -- it's easier these days to own a team than you might think.
The only thing you have to do is face up to a key fact: You are never, ever going to have enough money to buy an existing franchise in a mainstream professional sport.
You'll just have to create your own.
Now that you've adjusted your expectations drastically, you are ready to head down the path to becoming a megalomaniacal sports-team owner. Just follow these seven simple steps and you'll be there in no time.
Step 1: Pick a Sport
The key here is to choose a sport in which you will not face competition from actual athletes, established leagues or bona fide rich people. Think small.
For example, a few years back, a good sport to get into would have been roller derby. Numerous leagues have formed around the country since 2001
, carving out a thriving niche that America didn't even know it needed.
I may be biased
, but I heartily suggest croquet as the sport of the future. Stay with me.
For one thing, few such leagues exist
-- which creates opportunity. Also, men and women can compete against one another, so the famed "strip croquet
" scene from "Heathers" -- the game's biggest pop culture moment ever -- could totally happen.
Bonus: Alcohol consumption by players during competition
is encouraged, unlike in the boring NBA.
But any extremely obscure sport that you're passionate about could conceivably work under the right circumstances.
Step 2: Form a League
You can't have a franchise without a league. Rather than attempting to horn in on an existing league's action and playing by other people's rules, you might consider forming your own.
To do so, I would suggest using booze and food to lure between six and 12 of your zaniest friends to an "organizational meeting." (This phrase is in quotes because only a minimal amount of organization is likely to occur.)
If that doesn't work, ask around. Chances are, unless this is a professional masturbation league
, other fanatics out there will want in on the action.
Now, hash out arcane schedules, needlessly complicated championship-format rules, and profit-sharing guidelines to be followed if -- when! -- your league hits the big time. Voila! You now "own" a team in a "professional" sports league!
Step 3: Name Your Squad
The bar is ridiculously low here. You'd be hard-pressed to do worse than the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, the Orlando Magic, or Carolina Panthers.
Step 4: Recruit Your Players
Working against you: the fact that your friends have lives and other things to do. Working for you: the current high unemployment rate, promises of beer, motivational hate speeches against rival team owners. Outright bribery also helps.
Step 5: Launch a Media Onslaught
This is fun and easy to accomplish in our kooky modern world. The National Football League thinks it's all high and mighty with its own 24-hour cable network. But all you need to compete is YouTube, Twitter and the ability to issue delusional proclamations about the earth-shattering high-stakes competition that will take place in your league.
If the so-called big leagues can go around pretending everything they do represents a vital turning point in human history (see: Tiger Woods at the Masters
), nothing is stopping you.
Step 6: Create Pomp and Circumstance
May I suggest involving a smoke machine
, thrift-store neckties, a Queen greatest-hits playlist and some matching headbands for your team? After a few domestic 12-packs go down the hatch, your fans will be impressed and your opponents intimidated.
Step 7: Revel in the Thrill of Victory
So, you've organized a league, picked a team, named it, (hopefully) devised a sweet logo and awesome uniforms, and played some kind of competitive schedule that may be no shorter than one day and no longer than the interminable death march to prison camp known as the NHL play-offs.
You have already won, even if your franchise loses in miserable and humiliating fashion. Rejoice, as you are no longer a mere sports fan -- you are an owner.
And even though it's small stakes, you can rest assured that if you manage to pull together even one afternoon of DIY competitive fun, your event will be one of the best in the world of sports that day.
Zach Dundas is the author of "The Renegade Sportsman: Drunken Runners, Bike Polo Superstars, Roller Derby Rebels, Killer Birds, and Other Uncommon Thrills on the Wild Frontier of Sports," recently published by Riverhead Books. His last article for Asylum was about baseball cards from the 1970s.
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