Saturday, September 22, 2007

Why Is Sports Crime Different?

Professional sports are not just 'sports'. Sports are businesses, big businesses. Each team is a corporation. Their profits rise and fall on their successes and failures - just like any other business.

When a team executive spies for competitive advantage that team is stealing money from the losing opponent. This is a crime.

How much money are we talking about here?

Take the Super Bowl for example. Heck, take three Super Bowls. Winning via fraud can add up. Denny Hatch estimated three Super Bowl wins adds up to about $1.7 million!

Bill Belichick, the New England Patriots football coach, coincidentally 'led' his team to three Super Bowl victories. He was caught spying on his opponents. He was fined $500,000 (tax deductible) - approximately 12% of his yearly salary. He wasn't fired from his job. He wasn't suspended from even one game.

Is Belichick appealing the decision? No. Just a cost of doing business, I guess.

The McLaren-Mercedes Formula One team was fined $100 million this month for their little espionage caper against Ferrari. Are they appealing the decision? No. Cost of doing business?

Compare 'Sports' business to conventional business...
• A federal judge ignored a former Coca-Cola secretary’s tearful plea for mercy and sentenced her to eight years in prison for conspiring to steal trade secrets from the world’s largest beverage maker. U.S. District Judge J. Owen Forrester told Joya Williams, 42, that he was giving her a longer sentence than recommended by federal prosecutors and sentencing guidelines because, “This is the kind of offense that cannot be tolerated in our society.”
• Kenneth Lay, former Chairman of Enron, lost his job, faced a decades-long prison term for his fraud and died of a heart attack. Jeffrey Skilling, Enron's former CEO, is currently serving a 24-year, 4-month prison sentence.
• Hewlett-Packard's spy scandal: Carly Fiorina, former CEO, fired.
• Wal-Mart's spy scandal: Bruce Gabbard, security employee,

Unlike Belichick and the McLaren-Mercedes Formula One team 'Wacky Racers', none of the conventional business folks are out there 'enjoying the game' any more.

So, why is stealing money in the sports world treated differently?
What messages does this send to our children?