The moral dilemma of relocating a franchise

As professional sports teams rapidly decide to find a new home, a line is drawn between fans and team ownership

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Teams such as the Las Vegas Raiders (formerly Oakland Raiders) relocating has caused a lot of controversy in and around professional sports.

Franchises in crisis either stay loyal to their fans or follow the money. Right now, many National Football League (NFL) franchises are jumping at the chance to make a quick buck.

In the past two off-seasons, three NFL teams have opted to relocate their franchise to a different location, including two in this past year alone. These three teams include the Los Angeles Rams (formerly the St. Louis Rams), the Los Angeles Chargers (formerly the San Diego Chargers) and now the Las Vegas Raiders (formerly the Oakland Raiders).

The reasons these teams disclose for leaving span between needing to find a better location for economic prosperity to needing to wipe the slate clean and start fresh.

This practice dates back to when the Baltimore Colts (now Indianapolis Colts) packed up in the dead of the night and moved to Indianapolis to avoid fan backlash and protests. There lies the party that is getting the short end of the stick — the fans.

When a franchise leaves a specific city, it feels as if they are taking all of their history and memories with them as well, especially if the team had been located in a place for multiple decades. Many fans grew up with these teams, supported these teams and continually fought against the team leaving in the first place. This raises an interesting question: what or who should decide if a team should be allowed whether to relocate or not?

Currently, the system for deciding whether a team is able to relocate is this: The team makes a request to the NFL to move, then the owners of each NFL organization vote on whether they think it is best for the league If the organization in question receives the majority of the vote, they are allowed to move.

An example of this dates back to a few weeks ago when the Oakland Raiders received a 31-1 vote in favor of allowing them to move to Las Vegas (for some reason, the Miami Dolphins fought against it). But this system is not taking the fans into account. There is an alternative method the NFL could implement.

If the NFL claims the games are for the fans, let the fans vote on whether or not a team can leave. It can be structured like the United States presidential election (minus the confusing Electoral College aspect of it) and this way, the most popular opinion among the fans is passed. However, this completely ignores the franchise’s financial well-being.

Both of these systems are flawed. Neither takes the other party into account. Not to mention, they most certainly don’t make either of the parties happy. But the bottom line is that many teams relocating, especially historically significant ones like the Raiders, hurts the image of the NFL.

If this problem is to be resolved in the near future, the commissioner of the NFL, Roger Goodell, needs to devise a better system that will strike a happy medium between both the ownership and the fans. As the past three cases of moving in the NFL have shown, the fans are not in support of the moves.

The fans want to watch quality football, and they need the NFL to provide it. The NFL needs the fans in order to be financial stable. If the two are going to prosper together, teams to show some longevity — otherwise, the league surely won’t.