“Players: The Story of Sports and Money and the Visionaries Who Fought to Create a Revolution” by Matthew Futterman
Baseball, Football (American), basketball, golf, tennis, business
April 26, 2016
4 of 5 stars (very good)
Sports are more than a form of entertainment, competition or games – they are also big business. While owners and other entrepreneurs have always understood this, the players and athletes have not always reaped the benefits of the revenue generated by their endeavors. How this changed and the role that money plays in sports is the topic of this entertaining book by Matthew Futterman.
Arnold Palmer could be considered the pioneer of this revolution when he hired an agent named Mark McCormack to assist in negotiating a better endorsement contract with Wilson Sporting Goods. It was a shock to Wilson as they thought they had given Palmer a fair offer. However, given the amount of money that Wilson was making off of the clubs endorsed by Palmer, that wasn’t the case according to McCormack. That lead to a new contract and a new era for player leverage in not only golf, but many other American sports as well.
Just about any type of business action that a sports fan can think of is covered in the book. Player free agency? The saga of Catfish Hunter leaving Oakland for New York is covered. Television money? A chapter is devoted to the proliferation of regional sports cable networks. Licensed merchandise? How the NFL marketed the growing popularity of quarterbacks into profits from selling jerseys is covered in detail. Professional tennis players and the struggles they had until they were offered larger purses in the major tournaments was the subject of the best chapter. The variety of sports and topics made this a very interesting book for me.
While some sports fans may be disillusioned because the role money plays in their favorite games, this well-researched book is one that any fan of any sport will want to read as it does a good job of illustrating the various ways that big money plays an important role in all professional sports.
I wish to thank Simon and Schuster for providing a copy of the book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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