Marketability is everything in professional sports. It is the difference between a fruitful franchise and one that flounders.
Justin Verlander provides marketability on a national level for the Detroit Tiger franchise, as well as other franchises in the league. Verlander puts people in seats at Comerica Park and on the road.
He was an instant market-grabber following his Rookie of the Year campaign in 2006, helping the Tigers to their first World Series in 22 years. He followed that up with the first of two no-hitters in only six major league seasons. Last year he put himself into another category with a historic run that included the A.L. Cy Young and MVP honors.
In professional sports marketability is pretty simple—sell tickets, move merchandise and endear fans to your brand.
Teams with a loyal following, like the Tigers, endure even during difficult times. What else would explain the Boston Red Sox and their throng of fans during an 86-year absence from championship glory.
True fans endure. They proudly wear their team's colors regardless of outcome. They stand behind their team, and they never lose faith in their heroes. It is these hometown heroes who fuel the economic growth of a team and at other times rescue it from peril.
In professional sports, owners might write the checks, but players have and always will drive the market of the game.