Teeing off with Trent

Why the small market winner makes professional sports more exciting

More stories from Trent Tetzlaff


Day after day it begins to get old. Flip on your television or scroll through your Twitter feed, and all you hear about is Yankees this, Red Sox that or how much money the Lakers will give the big name free agent in the off-season.

Hello people, let’s not forget that the top three revenue-producing sports leagues (MLB, NFL, NBA) all have 30 or more teams. So why aren’t we talking about all of these franchises instead of just a select few?

This question is one that not only I wonder about when I turn on sporting news, but hundreds of thousands of fans in small markets all over the country wonder about as well.

I snickered when I took a glance at this NBA season’s upcoming schedule for nationally televised games. Out of the first 10 nationally televised games, nine of them carry teams that are top-10 revenue producers in the league.

Teams like the Los Angeles Clippers, Chicago Bulls and even a team currently in mediocrity, New York Knicks, get a crack at the national stage. So why not teams near the bottom in revenue such as the Minnesota Timberwolves or Milwaukee Bucks?

The answer is simple — they don’t bring ESPN the revenue they want from the game because of less viewership from the smaller market. Sad, but it’s the truth.

According to Forbes’ Kurt Badenhausen, despite larger market teams’ mediocrity, and because of the revenue they bring in, they still receive more air time and large television contracts.

The Lakers finished with their second worst record in franchise history at 27-55 last season and are faring even worse this year,” he said. “But the team has the richest local TV deal in the sport: a 20-year, $4 billion contract with Time Warner.”

This is why a team like MLB’s Kansas City Royals making the World Series and winning it all is a big deal. Not only for themselves and their fans, but for all small market teams.

The underdog, or the team that’s built with a young talented core, is one of the more exciting things to follow in sports and the Royals just wrapped up their case.

Major sports leagues such as the MLB cannot be more ecstatic when teams like the New York Yankees or New York Mets make a post-season run to the World Series because their large markets boost television ratings and make their league a boatload of money.

But if money is what these leagues are about, then they are going at it the wrong way.

The MLB, NBA and NFL commissioners should be rooting for the underdogs, and an overall sense of parody in their leagues. With parody, these leagues could take the next step to bigger profits as every regular season game’s viewership would go up along with the playoffs and the championship.

The Royals have become the model for success in a small market, and it would be a shame if other struggling teams didn’t take note.