Breakin’ Up (with Sports) is Hard to Do!

Don’t take your love away from me
Don’t you leave my heart in misery
‘If you go then I’ll be blue
‘Cause breaking up is hard to do

That iconic Neil Sedaka break-up song was a huge hit back in 1962 and solidified his name as a pop music icon.  In the mid-1970’s, he sang it once again (but slower this time), and the song once again climbed to the top of the music charts.      

Today, this classic tune does a great job of describing how a growing segment of American sports fans are feeling.  We have invested much of our lives participating in and watching team sporting events on television and in person.    

All Americans (and especially sports fans) are saddened by the tragic events which have made the news in this country during 2020.  Those events rightfully serve as a wake-up call for everyone to do a much better job of trying to get along with their fellow man and woman. 

We really do get it. 

A true sports fan is color blind.  Fans want to root for the players on the sports teams of their favorite schools, colleges, or cities.  The only colors that a true sports fan will notice at an athletic event are the colors on the uniforms being worn that day.   

More importantly, a true sports fan just wants to have a good time while supporting their favorite team.  Sports are a friendly competition.  Win or lose, sports fans generally remain loyal to their favorite teams.  In many ways, we truly do love our sports teams and all of the emotional ups and downs that go along with investing our time and money into this generally pleasant addiction.    

Re-mem-ber when you held me tight
And you kissed me all through the night
Think of all that we’ve been through
And breaking up is hard to do

In this upside down year of 2020, many Americans are showing signs of breaking-up.  Mentally, that is.  The longer this pandemic keeps people from congregating with other human beings (whether at schools, shopping, churches, and, of course, sporting events), the more psychological damage appears to be manifesting in this country.

I wholeheartedly believe that the worst possible activity during this stressful year has been watching the 24/7 television news channels.  If you want to dig a hole for yourself and become even further depressed about the world in 2020, watch more than one hour per day on any of the wall-to-wall “news” channels. 

Even if you haven’t been watching the news channels, the 24/7 sports channels are doing a fine job at depressing you, too.  With no live sporting events to cover, these sports channels are mentioning “Dr. Fauci” nearly as often as they said “Tiger Woods” or “LeBron James” during the previous decade.   We have gone from watching scores and stats on the sports ticker to seeing the crawler advising of more cancelled sports events and increasing numbers of virus cases and deaths.  Sigh.

I get it.  With no sporting events on tap, what are these sports outlets supposed to cover?  They have to fill time and try to preserve what little audience some of these networks actually have right now.  So, they have started covering current events, social issues, and opining about many other things outside of sports. 

Once you go down that road, you are guaranteed to alienate about half of your audience.  The results from any recent presidential election will confirm that simple stat.   For every person nodding in support, there is one other person saying, “Seriously?”

They say that breaking up is hard to do
Now I know I know that it’s true
Don’t say that this is the end
Instead of breaking up I wish that we were making up again

Did you ever wonder why 24/7 news channels have become so biased along one side of the political spectrum and not more even handed?  The race to generate more advertising revenue while facing increased competition certainly rings a bell. If a news network is trying to build a loyal audience with other competitors in hot pursuit of this same percentage of the overall television viewing audience, each network is reaching out for a certain demographic and then does its best to reinforce that viewpoint throughout every broadcast day. 

Radio has been doing just that since we were born. With so many choices in your local radio market, AM and FM stations have been notoriously competitive when it comes to grabbing onto a particular audience demographic and then feeding their audience more of the same.  It is highly unlikely that you will ever hear the classical music of Beethoven followed by a classic rock tune from The Beatles on your favorite local radio station! 

Guess who is now jumping into this “divide and conquer” advertising game?   Yes, sports!   With more and more sports media outlets popping-up nearly everywhere recently, consumers of sports are finding that politically-biased sports coverage is fast becoming just like the 24/7 news outlets (which many of us also despise).    

If you have been following my posts about sports in 2020, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  ESPN, the long-time king of televised sports networks, has been alienating more and more sports fans in recent years as certain on-air personalities began to inject their own political opinions into coverage of sports.    When this happened a few years ago on a rare occasion, your tendency was to forgive and forget.  When it starts to happen on a daily basis, though, you finally get the picture.  For fans who don’t agree with that viewpoint, it is time to pack your bags and leave.   

I beg of you
Don’t say goodbye
Can’t we give our love another try?
Come on baby, let’s start anew
‘Cause breaking up is hard to do

And leave they have.  Sports websites such as are growing like wildfire in 2020 as right-leaning sports fans flee seeking safe harbor from the “I’m smarter than you are” finger-pointing opinions being espoused by ESPN and other left-leaning sports sources. 

Personally, I would like to believe that the vast majority of sports fans still prefer to consume their sports without a side-order of gravitational pull from either side.

Let’s forget left and right for a moment.  A big reason why sports have been so popular in American culture has a lot to do with its therapeutic nature.  Sports activities have been a pathway for boys and girls (and, later, men and women) to escape from other pressures of their daily lives (whether school, work, or in the home). 

Generally speaking, sports are an oasis of good clean fun for most of us fans.  When my beloved New Orleans Saints finally won the Super Bowl in 2009, do you think that local pub patrons, filled to the brim with WhoDats (Saints fans), cared whether the person sitting next to them was a conservative or a liberal as they wildly hugged and high-fived each other after the biggest win in franchise history?  Insert your favorite team’s shining sports moment here, and you get the picture.

Until now, that is. 

The sports world is now in the process of killing off the proverbial golden goose.  For every sports fan who may agree with a sports personality’s opinion about various current events (such as kneeling and related protests, for example), there is another sports fan who quietly disagrees with those comments.  If that sports program doesn’t provide a forum for an opposing viewpoint, the disgruntled sports fan will (eventually) turn it off and walk away.  And that’s where we seem to be during the summer of 2020.

They say that breaking up is hard to do
Now I know I know that it’s true
Don’t say that this is the end
Instead of breaking up I wish that we were making up again

If you and I owned a professional sports franchise in a major sport, this chaotic year might seem like a great time to consider selling it.  As many of America’s left-leaning sports media outlets have openly joined forces with protesting players, the very real possibility exists that a large number of American sports fans are going to make good on their promises not to watch or support their former favorite teams for the rest of this year and beyond.      

If that is true and the market value for American sports teams is at a peak, then why haven’t Jerry Jones (Dallas Cowboys) or James Dolan (New York Knicks) noticed this trend and sold their franchises this year?    

Think “global”. 

The biggest remaining growth for American-based major league sports and their valuable franchises is the global market.   The NBA has already signaled how much they value maintaining their cozy relationship with Communist China.  In today’s NBA, teams and players dare not mention supporting Hong Kong as they do not wish to offend anyone in Beijing as the basketball league openly salivates for its chance to tap into a greater portion of the lucrative Chinese basketball market.

For the NFL, would it really come as a shock to anyone if the league were to move franchises out of smaller market cities like Jacksonville and Buffalo and relocate them into global markets such as London and Mexico City over the next few years? 

Owners of major American sports franchises may take a hit from the push-back of a growing segment of their fans.  It may, indeed, hurt these sports in the short term.  In the long-term, though, these wily owners are eyeballing a large piece of a new and tasty Profit Pie which may be served to them soon by tapping into lucrative new global markets.        

For a recent analogy, consider this. Despite the number of people in the United States who have given up smoking cigarettes over the past fifty years, the tobacco companies have been replacing dwindling American sales by adding hundreds of millions of newly-addicted smokers in China and other countries overseas.   The profits made by today’s tobacco companies dwarf those from fifty years ago. 

No matter how many Americans sports fans decide to say “Adios” to their favorite teams soon and pledge to give up their old sports habits, please know that your favorite sports teams probably won’t care a bit. You can and will be replaced soon by a much larger global audience.   

Remember – If today’s sports teams don’t side with the wishes of today’s players (regardless of whether any of the owners personally agree), then the owners’ road to a future worldwide payday will be endangered.   These franchises are literally cash flow ATM’s for today’s owners. Those owners are smart enough to realize that their franchises would be nearly worthless if they don’t feature the best athletes in the world.  This is all about business right now. The owners will be siding with the players regardless of what happens this year.

Do the owners of sports franchises still want you to remain a fan?  Sure, but you’ll need to do it on their terms now.  

The real question is, “Do they really NEED you and me as a sports fan anymore?   

Well, uh…take it away, Neil…

I beg of you – Don’t say goodbye
Can’t we give our love another try?
Come on baby, let’s start anew
Since breaking up is hard to do…