How Steinbrenner changed the sports landscape

George Steinbrenner, owner of the New York Yankees

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

Steve Chiotakis: To baseball fans and players alike, he was the man everybody loved to hate. But his team, when he was in charge, was a winner. George Steinbrenner died this morning. He had just celebrated his 80th birthday on July 4. Steinbrenner had been in frail health for some time, and he suffered a heart attack last night in Tampa, Fla. His contributions to the sports world -- financially and creatively -- were innumerable. David Carter is professor of sports business at USC's Marshall School of Business. He's with us live here in Los Angeles. Good morning, professor.

David Carter: Good morning.

Chiotakis: You know, we know he demanded -- and he paid for -- champions with the Yankees. I mean what did he teach the sports world? What's his legacy?

Carter: Well I think it's amazing, growing up a Dodger fan, you have to really revile him. But as a sports business person, you have to absolutely revere his accomplishments. You know he bought this team in the early 70s for a little less than $10 million, and now it's probably worth 150 times that. And so what he meant to the entire establishment of sports business is nothing less than just amazing.

Chiotakis: You know he famously overpaid athletes, I mean thereby driving up the price a team would have to pay its superstars, free agency and all that. I mean was that good or bad for sports?

Carter: Well, I think it's a little bit of both. You know his strategic moves created massive ripple effects throughout the sport with the league and the teams that had to play catch-up. And that really put everybody on the defensive when he brought in players like Catfish Hunter and Reggie Jackson, early days of free agency. It's fundamentally changed how teams build their teams. And again, it's had a huge economic effect on the entire sports landscape, not just baseball.

Chiotakis: And he was also a marketing guru. I mean what did he do for sports on TV? He was among the first to take advantage of the cable networks, right, that would broadcast most Yankees games?

Carter: Well he was unabashed about trying to generate revenue that he could use to invest in players, and in getting the Yankee Entertainment and Sports Network started, again, it was just another element of this arms race whereby he was able to create much more revenue than any of the other teams. And he plowed that into his rosters -- not always successful -- but again, fundamentally reshaped how these teams had to go about generating revenue if they were to compete with a big market team like the Yankees.

Chiotakis: All right. David Carter, professor of sports business at USC's Marshall School here in Los Angeles. Professor, thanks.

Carter: Thank you.

About the author

Steve Chiotakis was the host of Marketplace Morning Report until January 2012.

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