Earlier this week, an amazing thing happened in England's National League System football league.
Twenty-thousand football fans joined an internet venture called MyFootballClub and purchased controlling interest in the Ebbsfleet United team. Each member paid approximately £35 (about $72 USD) and as a result, not only do they own a piece of the team, each of them gets to participate in decisions affecting the team. From player selection to front office decisions, all of them now have a say in their team's future.
As a sports fan, this has to be one of the most righteous things I've ever heard. You wouldn't believe how many times I've dreamed of the Lakers cutting Brian Cook. And I would've paid $7,000 for the privilege of personally firing Grady Little. Being able to have an actual say in what happens to your team is every sports fan's dream.
But let's not get too excited. I'm positive that this is going to be a massive disaster. My friends and I can never decide where we should go to lunch, and there's only 3 of us. Considering that there seem to be no legitimate governing body (which is how another, more famous community owned sports team, i.e. the Green Bay Packers, does it), how the hell are 20,000 equal partners supposed to make any kind of decision? It's conceivable that personnel decisions, for example, could pass with a smallest of majorities. If 10% of the group agreed on a particular player, a player that 90% of the remaining shareholders didn't want would likely be signed. What a nightmare.
One thing that I hate about sports in general is the business of it all. I mean, I'm not naïve. I understand that all of sports is a business but still, there's nothing I hate more than the corporate-ization (!) that's completely taken over sports. For example, the Boston Celtics play in the TD Banknorth Garden. What the hell kind of name is that? Yes, I know, naming rights for arenas is a big source of revenue for teams but come on, if you're a fan, how are you supposed to get excited about that?
Back to Ebbsfield United, I think it's great that fans, regular fans took control of their team. You gotta love it. So let's forget that that Ebbsfield plays in the fifth-highest ranked league and that the entire conference is bankrupt, let's forget that despite the influx of cash from the controlling stake sale the team will still be too poor to be competitive and let's forget that the sale is unlikely to generate desperately needed new fans for the team. In fact, let's forget that this entire situation is unbelievably impractical, I still think it's very awesome.