A guest post by Kenny Jean, marketing intern at Stanford University Press
To me, an avid fan of football and basketball, Rodney Fort and Jason Winfree’s 15th Sports Myths and Why They’re Wrong offers an interesting and captivating perspective, addressing the popular misconceptions surrounding college and professional sports and identifying the parties that benefit most from the average fan’s misinformed understanding of sports business.
One myth that resonates with me, Owners and General Managers are Inept, explores the popular perception that General Managers are inept because of singular bad decisions made during their tenure. I can confirm both the widespread popularity of this belief throughout the sports community and my personal guilt of getting frustrated with the front office when my team continuously falls short of expectations and my favorite player never seems to have the right supporting cast to be successful.
With those biases in mind, I was impressed and convinced by Fort and Winfree’s patient and thorough dissection of the layered job of GMs. Identifying the marketing interests, long-term visions of sustainable success, and overall difficulty of making accurate predictions, the authors craft an informative explication of why infamous sports choices actually made sense at time, and why GMs are undeserving of emotional criticism that flies their way.
The authors’ analysis is carefully done, but I don’t think enough credit is given to the experiences and perspectives of the devout, informed fans, who do understand the business and that sustainable winning takes time. These fans are more willing to ignore singular decisions that retrospectively stand out as bad due to unforeseen injuries or a player’s subsequent growth elsewhere, but even these fans can only remain so patient in the face of perpetual losses. Eventually, GMs must produce tangible results and be held accountable when unable to stabilize a franchise after decades of woeful play.
The GM has a direct hand in fielding players, drafting talent, and providing a city’s team with the opportunity to win. Despite Fort and Winfree’s assertion that GMs have a number of interests to consider such as sales and having an exciting team, winning should always be the primary goal. A collection of players may not be have the biggest names or be the most fun to watch, but if they play as a team and get the job done on a nightly basis, the real fans will be appreciative, supportive, and dedicated. Increased recognition of the good decisions GMs make are necessary but in the end, everything is resolved when you just win. I recommend this title for both the occasional and the devout sports fan.
Kenny Jean is a marketing intern this summer at Stanford University Press. A rising senior at Williams College, he is majoring in English and pursuing a double concentration in Africana Studies and Legal Studies. He is interested in pursuing a career in Journalism or Entertainment. He lives in Brooklyn.