He’s a high profile 40 year old semi-athletic business type with a love for basketball and a frequent flyer who is here to bring us change. But, unlike Barrack Obama he is change we can believe and not only should we believe in it, we should embrace it.
The Russian businessman wrote recently on his Mikhail Prokhorov said on a blog Tuesday that he would be willing to throw some of his billions, the guy is worth around seven of them into saving the New York/New Jersey Nets and their planned Frank Gehry inspired arena.
Now apparently they are a bit behind the times their in Moscow because if Mikhail Prokhorov had really wanted to make a scene he would of twittered this comment.
Foreign ownership of major sports teams has already become an established fact in the English Premiership where every year a Gulf billionaire, a former tin-pot Thai renegade, or a Russian oil-tycoon(or Moghul if your into the whole South Asian History thing). Buys one of leagues well-known which often brings howls of disapproval from English fans most notably when Malcom Glazer, the American owner of the Tampa Bay Bucaneers bought a large stake in the New York Yankees of English football: Manchester United. Regardless of criticism these owners have revitalized the teams they have owned and made English football a global brand.
Now I’m sure in the coming weeks we will see if Mr. Prokhorov’s plan will come to fruition. Even if it doesn't at some point in the near future some person with a different color passport than blue will buy an American sports franchise. We as Americans need to embrace it because foreigners are the best thing to happen to American sports since Babe Ruth.
The past thirty years have given us ample proof of this. Increasingly, foreign athletes are not just taking fringe roles in American sports but staring. First of course there is no better place than to start with Hideo Nomo, his tornado move made him a dominate pitcher for close to decade and he recorded no hitters with the Dodgers. A phenomenon was born which paved the way for another record breaker: Ichiro Suzuki.
With Suzuki we have seen the floodgates even more. Suzuki’s team the Seattle Mariners is owned by Nintendo. Yao Ming, Tony Parker, and before that Hakeem Olujuwan came to the NBA. Even the NFL is not immune. Players born in across the world from wintery Estonia to humid Vietnam have played or continue to play in the NFL. The NFL’s leading all time scorer and former all-American is Morten Anderson who while thoroughly American is also as Danish as well…the pastry.
All these players have increased the level of play tremendously. The Eurobasket players brought more defense to the NBA just as Dennis Rodman and other defensive greats were fading from the scene. The NHL has been well served by its foreign born stars and the NFL knows that every foreign born player means more marketing opportunities. I couldn’t imagine watching the MLB without Vlad Guerrero or boxing without Manny Pacquiao. These stars have also been embraced by the local fans.
Why let it stop there? Let's be smart about this people if were going to spend much of our free time watching sports on television (or worse reading about it online) we should at least ensure that we are watching the best possible product and that is exactly what allowing foreign ownership of sports franchises can provide us.
I’m sure there are millions of American fans of hopeless sports franchises that would love to see their teams bought by foreign billionaires. Thus, hopefully American sports fans will show the maturity to embrace foreign capital that men like Mikhail Prokhorov represents because this is how America has always maintained its edge by bringing the best, the brightest and their money to our shores. That is how are nation was made after and it is not at all a bad model for the sports world to emulate. After all it was no less a person than President FDR who once began a speech “My fellow immigrants”.