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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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.

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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.

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Ralph Nader and League of Fans' statement on the announcement that the President of the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission is stepping down

Last Thursday, Robert Goldwater, President and Executive Director of the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission announced that he would not seek a renewal of his contract when it expires on Nov. 5. The agency has been mired in fiscal irresponsibility, secrecy and failed corporate welfare projects since Goldwater took over. Today, Ralph Nader and the sports industry watchdog League of Fans released a statement regarding this announcement and how the efforts of the DCSEC can be refocused on activities and programs designed to spread benefits broadly and enhance the well-being of the District. The statement follows.


Mayor Williams' mandate for the President of the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission (DCSEC) has collapsed under its own folly. The DCSEC had become a secretive and wasteful organization with a free pass for its leadership to do anything to attract Major League Baseball at the public's expense. Mayor Williams should learn an important lesson -- to think things through before giving up the public store, and to respect the heartfelt community dissent of citizens of the District of Columbia when attempting to turn their neighborhoods into entertainment complexes.

The announcement that DCSEC President Robert Goldwater is stepping down following a succession of controversies and embarrassments associated with the commission should conclude Mayor Williams' failed experiment with the agency. This is the perfect time for the Mayor and D.C. Council to take principal roles in redefining the leadership, goals and accountability of the DCSEC.

In addition to running and maintaining RFK Stadium and the Armory, the major goal of a redefined DCSEC should require a dramatic effort to rebuild and maintain D.C.'s decrepit neighborhood and youth sports, recreation and entertainment facilities. Mayoral and Council support of a revised mission for the DCSEC that focuses not on satisfying the avarice of wealthy developers and sports moguls, but on meeting the recreational needs of D.C. residents, would spread benefits broadly and enhance the well-being of the entire city instead of making D.C. a playground for corporate welfarists to easily extract public funds away from real life and displaced neighborhoods.

Along with this change in mission, new mechanisms of accountability must be imposed on the DCSEC. The commission should no longer operate so independently from the city government. Instead, the DCSEC should become the sports and entertainment branch of the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation, using its considerable resources to complement the department, making better the public assets of the city's facilities and operating as a fully accountable government organization.

The time, money and resources already spent on the out-of-control bid to "attract" Major League Baseball, along with numerous other boondoggles for which the DCSEC is responsible, could have been used to significantly improve the recreational needs of the District's residents. Such investments may not appear in personal financial portfolios, but we should not doubt the profound effect they have on the lives of the people and children of the District.

The days of the DCSEC's fiscal mismanagement, questionable activities, secrecy and refusal to seek community input on projects should be over. So too should attracting "world-class" sporting events by dumping public funds into the laps of private businesses in the dubious name of economic development. Broadly-based economic development for the District rests on putting the city back together so it can be a better place for everyone to live, work and recreate, and the DCSEC should reflect that goal.

Ralph Nader

Shawn McCarthy
League of Fans


Ralph Nader and League of Fans urge D.C. Mayor to ask for resignation of Sports Commission president and redefine goals of the agency (8/21/03)

Sports advocates target Goldwater

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President of D.C. Sports Commission to Step Down

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Goldwater will leave sports commission

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Sports Director's Ouster Sought

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D.C. Puts Fiscal Reins On Sports Commission

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