Watch out Republicans, the league with revenue-sharing is sending teams from two of the smallest markets to the big dance; and they're the most profitable sport in the land.
When pundits were dissecting this weekend's NFL divisional championship games, the teams from New York and Chicago were widely considered the underdogs. If this were one of the other three major American sports, there would be an underlying desire by league brass–if not need–for the major markets to be represented in the finals. Yet, in the only sport of the four whose championship is decided by one game (versus a series), it's of no concern. This is no better exemplified than in Super Bowl XLV, where a team from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania will play a team from Green Bay, Wisconsin.
The main difference between their counterparts in the NBA, MLB and NHL is that the
NFL has a true revenue sharing policy. Grounded by a hard salary cap,
the profit the league brings in is then shared among all of its 32
teams. To put it bluntly; they use socialist economics. It doesn't get more socialist than a maximum wage law. To drive the point home further, Green Bay is also community-owned by way of a tax all of the citizens of Green Bay pay.
Imagine a World Series between the Pirates and Brewers. You can't even imagine the equivalent in hockey or basketball because Pittsburgh and Wisconsin are only represented in three pro sports each. It would be a cataclysmic nightmare for the league, almost guaranteed to be the one of lowest rated in league history.
In the other three sports, there are luxury taxes if a team spends over a certain amount, but otherwise, each independent team is responsible for their own income. If your team doesn't make the playoffs for years and years (see: Kansas City Royals, Pittsburgh Pirates, the Washington Expos), not only will attendance suffer, you lose out on the 100% profit created by playoff games. Not to mention your chances of scoring free agents in the off season are worse because you don't have a winning program. At best, they learn to manage draft picks and finances a la the Oakland Athletics or Minnesota Twins. More often than not, they're relegated to being an in-league farm system, with high-draft picks who eventually leave to join large market teams (Royals, Tampa Bay Rays). This is the model of a true capitalistic economy where the rich get richer and the poor stay poor.
But in the NFL, whose income sharing model makes Sweden look like mere Europeans, every team gets a piece of the money pie. So even if New York or Chicago had made the Super Bowl, it would've been almost as financially lucrative to Green Bay and Pittsburgh. And because of this levity, which some refer to as parity, it doesn't matter who plays in the Super Bowl. In fact, this year's game will be seen as a classic NFL match-up, pairing two of the league's most storied and winningest franchises. A moment of pride, not shame.
The irony of course, is that the NFL is the most watched, biggest money-making sport in the country. You hear that America? One of the most successful business models in our country is entirely based around socialist economics. Hell, even the other sports at the very least have a capital gains tax. Even the most hard-line conservative would have a difficult time arguing against the benefits of these policies in the sports they watch. (Remember when Rush Limbaugh wanted to buy the St. Louis Rams? What a commie.)
Now don't get your panties in a bunch all you capitalists. What people in the political realm don't want us to realize is that what's good for all is actually very profitable for the wealthy elite. A hard salary cap means the profit margins annually increase over the years as inflation takes it's course. And the Super Bowl is only held in cities that have the weather or indoor stadium accommodations to host it (the only exception being in 2014 when the league will try hosting an outdoor Super Bowl in New York City — a win for the fat cats I suppose). And because every team and game is of relevance, TV-revenue is at a premium even if it's a game featuring two small market teams. So, in fact, this Utopian society where the money is equally shared actually still benefits the very wealthy.
With all of the squabbling in Washington over how our economic problems should be handled, and who should bear the brunt of the responsibility, the NFL is the perfect example of partisan economics at work. Taxing and redistributing the wealth to everyone is not only in the best interest of the poorest, but also the richest. And in the end, everyone wins.
Just ask the fans in Pittsburgh and Wisconsin.