Executive Meddling: Sports
Most owners of sports teams/leagues aren't athletes themselves, but that doesn't stop them from messing around with things
that don't go their way.
- On October 1, 1961, in the fourth inning of the last game of the season, New York Yankee right fielder Roger Maris hit his 61st home run of the season, breaking Babe Ruth's single-season home run record. The problem was that Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick declared that, because eight games had been added to the baseball season between Ruth setting his record and Maris breaking it, the record would indicate that it took longer for Maris to break it. In addition, Ruth's record would be retained in the books. Frick's reason for doing this was simple: he'd been one of Ruth's best friends, and didn't think an "arrogant little nobody" like Maris was worthy of breaking such a "great man's" record.
- What makes this worse is that, at least at the time, all baseball records were "officially" kept not by the MLB, AL, or NL offices but by third party publications like Baseball Encyclopedia and The Sporting News, which Frick had no official authority over.
- Even worse: Maris was finally recognized by MLB as the sole holder of the single season home run record in 1991. Unfortunately, Maris wasn't around to see it as he had died in 1985.
- In 1998, the year Mark McGwire hit 70 home runs to break Maris's record, and in 2001, when Barry Bonds hit 73, there was absolutely no messing about with keeping Ruth's record on the books, mostly because Frick had been dead for twenty years and Bud Selig was Baseball Commissioner. Many sports journalists, on the other hand, have tried to discount these records on the suspicion that the players were using performance enhancing drugs at the time.
- Ford Frick's appointment to the baseball commissioner's office was essentially a result of executive meddling by the club owners, who by 1950 made it clear they were running the game and the commissioner would be little more than a figurehead under their control. The owners were forced to appoint an authoritarian figure in 1920 in Kenesaw Mountain Landis to help clean up the game's image in the wake of the Black Sox Scandal; when he died in 1945, the owners hoped Albert "Happy" Chandler would be such a figurehead. He was not, as he blocked trades he felt were not in the game's best interests, levied fines against owners and dared allow the color barrier to be broken against many owners' wishes. But when it was discovered he was looking to ban Yankees owner Dell Webb and Cardinals owner Fred Saigh for associating with gamblers or other shady activities, Webb struck backroom deals with the other owners to get them to agree to not renew Chandler's contract. Webb was appointed head of the search committee to fans Chandler's replacement after suggesting baseball perhaps needed someone with a business and/or legal background - and then selected Frick, a former sportswriter and NL PR chief who had neither.
- In the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games, Brazilian triple jumper João de Oliveira had at least three valid jumps, one of which would break his own world record, annuled by the referees so they could give the gold (and silver) to a Soviet. Some even argue that sponsors Adidas and Mizuno had a hand in it.
- When construction businessman Florentino Pérez was elected as president of Real Madrid in 2000 he was determined to turn the team into the perfect money making machine. Iconic players were sold off and foreign stars brought in, no matter the cost or even if their position was already filled; anyone who had just won an award and was all the rage in the sports press had. to. be. in Real. No exceptions. This in itself wasn't a bad thing: indeed, Real won La Liga and the Champions League twice under his helm between 2000 and 2003. The actual disaster came when Pérez decided to let coach (and lifelong Real man) Vicente del Bosque's contract run out without renewal in 2003 and bring in Manchester United's assistant coach Carlos Queiroz as his replacement. Rumors said that Pérez had done this mainly as a marketing ploy, the Harrison Ford lookalike Queiroz being more suited in his mind to lead a team with the likes of Beckham, Figo and Zidane than the charmless, quiet walrus-like Del Bosque could ever be. Needless to say, Queiroz had not the experience to lead a team as big as Real Madrid, let alone one with as many egos as Pérez had collected, and the team took an immediate nosedive. Real was eliminated by Monaco in the Champions quarter-finals, lost the Copa del Rey to just-ascended Zaragoza and finished fourth in La Liga after a record of five consecutive defeats in the five last matches. Real would go then through 8 coaches in six years and disappointing result after disappointing result until José Mourinho took the helm in 2010. The same year that walrus-like Del Bosque's Spain beat Queiroz's Portugal in the second round and went on to win The World Cup for the first time in his country's history.
- The NBA was widely accused of this under former commissioner David Stern's tenure. He was accused of rigging the 1985 Draft Lottery to ensure that Patrick Ewing, the top draft pick, went to the New York Knicks. The '90s Chicago Bulls dynasty was widely believed to get favorable calls from the referees in order to ensure success for Michael Jordan. That accusation has spread to later teams, including the current Miami Heat and the early 2000s Los Angeles Lakers, for whom the 2002 Western Conference Finals were allegedly rigged by the referees to ensure that the Lakers, who are in a larger media market than their opponents, the Sacramento Kings, went to the NBA Finals.
- The NHL's Gary Bettman is booed in every single arena he walks into. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. During his tenure, he has brought about three lockouts, one cancelling the entire season and the others cancelling half, and has continuously defended franchises like the Florida Panthers and the Arizona Coyotes, whose home arenas are eternally empty, when numerous cities in Canada, and to a lesser extent the Northern U.S., could easily support a hockey team and are really desperate for an NHL franchise (Quebec City is the glaring example, but Hamilton, Saskatoon, and Seattle are also open markets). This becomes even more puzzling when, after his numerous other cash grabs, he never seemed to notice how moving another such team from Atlanta to hockey-hungry Winnipeg resulted in the franchise receiving a massive revenue increase. Said move also brought about criticism of the administration when Winnipeg were kept in the Southeast Division for two years, with many blaming the Jets missing the playoffs-especially in their first year-on the tiring travel schedule brought about by this.
- Ultimate Fighting Championship, "UFC", lobbied to end the tax on pay per views held in the state of Oklahoma. As a result of their lobbying, Oklahoma decided to ban all combat sports in 2012, including professional wrestling, to shut them up.