For me, the most significant statistic coming out of this year’s Super Bowl was not the 31-25 score in the Green Bay Packers’ hard-fought victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Nor was it the $1.3 billion cost of the new, monstrously huge football palace built by the Dallas Cowboys, where the game was played. Rather, the number that impresses me is 111,968.
That is the number of people who own the Packers — each of whom is an ordinary Green Bay resident and devoted cheesehead.
Unlike all 31 of the other pro football teams, the Packers are not the personal plaything of some rich family or profiteering corporate consortium. Instead, it is a nonprofit community enterprise owned by local fans and managed by them as a project “intended to promote community welfare.” Those 111,000 Green Bay citizens elect the team’s board of directors, and this hands-on community-minded board then hires and fires the team administrators and coaches.
Public ownership means that no impulsive greedhead can sell the beloved Packers and move them in the dead of night to a cash-rich big city. It also produces unmatched fan support, even in years when the Packers do poorly on the field. In fact, if things aren’t going well, fans don’t have to whine helplessly about it on the shock-jock call-in shows — as citizens of this small city they can talk directly to the team management, or as shareholders they can vote to change managers.
Interestingly, in a time when politicos and pundits across the country are demonizing the very idea of public ownership, the good folks of Green Bay are showing that it works beautifully and adds immeasurable strength to the community. Not only are these Green Bayers Super Bowl champs again this year, but they’ve produced more NFL championships in their city than any other set of owners have done.
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