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How Americans Play Baseball

Thursday 13th March 2008 @ 19:00

Non-Member: £12.00 ; Staff: £5.00 ; Student: £3.00


Industrial economist and author specialising in the business of sport, Stefan Szymanski took a penetrating, if somewhat irreverent look, at how these two sports have developed economically and socially in the United States of America and in England. He posed a question at the beginning of his talk. "Why are Americans buying up football teams in the Premier League?" He showed how the structure of both games stemmed from the development of cricket in Eighteenth Centure in the South East corner of England where the aristocracy formed teams to play each other for as much as half a million pounds per game in todays currency. The Americans striving to do things differently and what ever the Yankees did in turn would not be replicated in England.

? The Americans formed a closed league of basket ball teams each of which played each other to find out which was the winner. The control on finance and organisation means that the teams are fairly equal in ability. Football on the other hand has an open league system with various local and national leagues. All importantly all these teams play a knock out competition for the Football Association cup in which, in theory at any rate, any small town team could win. If teams do no do well then they are relegated to a lower leagues. Good teams are promoted to the league above. There is no limit on the expenditure on players or clubs. It is a free market.

As Professor Szymanski pointed it was somewhat at odds with the political and economic trends in America to have a league of backetball which controlled competition yet in Britain, a rather more left leaning culture, it was a free for all. Of course the baseball league makes very substantial returns on investment Most football clubs do not make a profit despite the very large numbers of people watching it and the substantial income from television rights. Football is international in a way that baseball is not. Carried by the British Empire to every corner of the globe. It is a game that can be played with no special equipment, is easy to understand and is now played everywhere including Iraq and Afghanistan between troops and locals. He conjectured that the US moguls will create a closed league of football in the UK which would turn in very handsome profits but would denude the World Cup between nations and the FA cup. Relegation and promotion would be forgotten. The will to win would be lessened."? ?

Venue: Sir Alexander Fleming Building, Imperial Coll