Frank DeFord, in some sort of ramble about the way things used to be versus the way they are today which I’m not sure I really understood (though, to be fair, I don’t really ever understand anything he says, about anything, really) mentions that Greater New York has “nine, count ’em, nine” professional teams in a tone that suggests that that is just too darn many.

But it’s really not. If you wanted to take the four major leagues’ 122 teams and distribute them about the US and Canada to represent the share of population in each metro area, well, Greater New York houses about 6.7% of all folks north of the Rio Grande, and 9 out of 122 is 7.4%, so perhaps a slight overrepresentation given that 8 out of 122 is 6.6%. Ironically, the overrepresentation seems to come from hockey, where Greater NY has three teams; it has two in every other league.

In fact, its the smaller cities that are substantially overrepresented. Take Indianapolis, which has just over one-half of one percent of combined Amero/Canuck pop. Yet it has the Pacers and the Colts, triple its “natural” share.

Of course, not all sports preferences are distributed evenly, and specifically the NFL doesn’t compete in Canada, making these guesstimates very rough indeed. But there’s nothing terribly unjust about the number of teams in the Big Apple.

Now, if I were DeFord, the point I would have made is just how much measures to coercively redistribute resources between teams to enforce equality of opportunity has not only increased the ability of non-dynastic teams to succeed but has also been extremely positive for the overall economic health of the leagues. The median NFL team today is worth ~75% more than the median NFL team in 2003, which outpaces the S&P 500 by 10pp over the same period, and the mean has increased even faster.

Of course, DeFord may have been making this point, and I just didn’t understand it. I don’t really understand his points, ever.

Of course, the even better point to make would have been “the Green Bay Packers are a far better model for sports franchises than private ownership and big-city mayors should refuse to fund stadia a penny with tax dollars unless the team is sold to the city.”

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