The Winning versus Wealth Debate

Read the opposing arguments from Babe Ruthless and Loyal Homer.

It has been a while, but we have another TSD first on our hands.

They said it couldn’t be done. But I, Bleacher Fan – for the first time in The Sports Debates history – am about to include a Broadway Musical reference in today’s article.

In Mel Brook’s hit Broadway musical The Producers, main character Max Bialystock is a theater producer who discovers a loophole where he can actually make more money by producing flops than if he were to produce hits. Armed with that knowledge, Max convinces accountant Leo Bloom to partner and embark on the ultimate scheme: Find the world’s worst play, hire the worst director, raise a bunch of money, hire the worst actors, close the play after it flops and take all the extra money raised and run.

Now I am sure you are wondering how this could possibly be related to sports. Well, have you ever heard of the Pittsburgh Pirates?

In a recent reporting of their financial records, it was found that the Pirates, owned by Bob Nutting, are actually PROFITING despite being deep in the throes of having the longest streak of consecutive losing seasons – not just in baseball – but in ANY major American sport in history.

The team continues to lose on the field, but has a history of being a successful business.

Pirates’ officials claim they have simply been unlucky in developing their talent, but some are now saying that the Pirates have stopped trying to win.

For the few fans of the Pirates that still exist, it would be extremely heartbreaking to think that Nutting was following Max Bialystock’s lead in the running of their beloved baseball team.

Which brings us to our question of the day: Should governing bodies in sports, such as the MLB or NFL, force teams to pursue a winning strategy, rather than simply a profitable one?

This question is not intended to focus on what the rules would or should look like, but rather to ask whether these major sports organizations should tolerate teams that consistently take cost-cutting measures which appear to directly lead to poor performance on the field.

Loyal Homer will argue that leagues should enforce policies where winning always takes precedent over profitability, while Babe Ruthless will argue that profitability is a form of success that can and should also be pursued.

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