League of Fans

Founded by Ralph Nader, League of Fans is a sports reform project working to improve sports by increasing awareness of the sports industry's relationship to society, exposing irresponsible business practices, ensuring accountability to fans, and encouraging the industry to contribute to societal well-being.

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Alerts is League of Fans' email announcements list. Alerts provides news, information, the actions of League of Fans and/or Ralph Nader regarding sports issues, and calls-to-action for subscribers. All email updates are either selected or written by League of Fans.


League of Fans is motivated by people, just like you, who are upset with what has become of our sports and would like to make a difference. We work with concerned citizens, sports fans, civic groups and communities to increase awareness of the sports industry's relationship to society, influence a broad range of issues in sports at all levels and encourage the cooperative capacities that make the "sports powers-that-be" capable of helping, not just dominating, our society and culture.

News / Resources

We often think of sports as outside the realm of everyday citizen concern. But the many benefits to society that sports can provide are sometimes undermined by a different set of values, often based on the quest for higher and higher profits at the expense of fans, taxpayers, communities, culture and social justice.

Your Role

Get Involved! Your involvement will improve sports for communities and fans, and encourage the sports industry to better contribute to societal well-being.

A Consumer Group for Sports Fans

In the Public Interest
By Ralph Nader

"Greed," screams the lurid headline on the cover of this month's "Sport" magazine, "Look what It's Done To Our Games."

"It's consumer fraud," exclaims an obviously upset sportswriter in recounting a spate of what he considered to be tricky maneuvers in the industry of professional sports.

Is it time for the millions of sports fans to join the consumer movement and defend their interests? Judging by conversations with fans, sportswriters and the growth of the consumer and taxpayer abuses, the question is not outlandish.

First, there are the more immediate gripes -- spiraling ticket prices, high-priced junk food at the concessions, TV blackouts, and season-ticket exclusions for the non-affluent and politically non-connected.

Second, there are abuses of the players, such as artificial turf hazards, because team owners believe Monsanto and disbelieve stars like Gale Sayers who says his career was cut short by the big green mats.

In pro hockey, there are so many teams that player dilution is obvious to any casual observer. So team promoters discover that hockey violence can replace hockey skills on the rinks and on the television screen until the spectacle becomes sickening to all but the sadistically inclined.

Third, there are the excesses of the sports corporations that field these teams. Often recipients of substantial tax subsidies, as in the coliseum rampage of recent years, many of these companies are created because the tax advantages to their millionaire owners instead of a desire to meet a supporting market of sports fans.

The sting of market failure for an expansion team, for instance, is cushioned by the tax writeoff. Such a bailout option contributes to management that is insensitive to the fan's desire for skilled events at reasonable prices.

Each professional sport fields its own particular injustices to the fans, whether as consumers or taxpayers. Phony winner-take-all tennis contests, hyped media promotions in boxing, tax-sheltered expansions and some special anti-trust exemptions in basketball and baseball, the over-extension and overlap of schedules by different sports, to list a few.

Since they are paying all the bills, shouldn't the fans exercise some fundamental consumer rights to know and to shape the product or service they are buying?

For example, the rules of the sport affect the attractiveness of the play. The fans should be represented before the sports leagues during rule change deliberation or expansion policy. They might have some good ideas to suggest along with their commentary on the proposals.

The operations of "amateur" athletics and the NCAA rules and regulations also deserve the attention of the fans.

Sportswriter Roy Blount, Jr. points to a possible general collapse of the sports economy, due to the high velocity machinations of the fast buck operators, before reason begins to prevail.

He quotes Philadelphia's Bobby Clarke, the president of the NHL Players Association, as saying, "All our salaries must come down. It's crazy. The game and its integrity are more important than what one person wants."

Perhaps, with season shortened and the teams less financially unstable or frenzied, the players will last longer. And the fans will recover an identity and familiarity with the local team that made the Celtics, Canadiens and Dodgers memorable beyond their superior exploits.

Fans who watch play for pay are getting turned off when the play for pay is for a different team every two or three years. There is a limit to buying championships instead of developing them.

How would the fans reflect their interests? One way is to associate into a sports fans organization with a monthly publication and full-time, skilled staff. In this manner the fans can achieve the kind of regular, representation of their interests, small and large, that is needed to prevail before owners, leagues, and various government commissions and agencies.

All in all, such a development could lead to more solid and exciting sports as well as a little involvement for the ever-bystanding fan. With the fans gaining a voice beyond yelling at the games, more sportswriters may replace freebies and flatteries with professional journalistic performance.

If interested in the idea of a consumer group for sports fans, write to FANS, P.O. Box 19312, Washington, DC 20036. Send your ideas when you write.