How Successful Is The American Franchise Model Of Sports?

There’s no real doubt that no one operates sport like the Americans do. This modeling of sports on a franchise basis is unlike anything else in the world and it does certainly present an intriguing way of running a run of different games. Here’s how it works.

The franchise model in American sport is one that has most traditionally been seen in popular sports such as American football, whose NFL division popularized the model. Each club is granted the chance by the league to operate in their home city. This authorization covers a 75 miles radius around an area in which no other clubs can operate, and each club inside their so-called ‘Home Territory’ holds the ability to host games and events and the rights to advertise and promote such events. 

Things get a little interesting for those clubs that operate within the same area, such as with cities like New York City and Los Angeles or states such as Florida, which has two big NFL clubs, the 2021 Super Bowl winners, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Miami Dolphins. In instances such as this, the two clubs share the right to territory and marketing.

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It was not in the NFL where the idea of franchises was born, however. This honor goes specifically to the sport of baseball, although not in the much-loved form of MLB that has itself become an American institution. For the original franchise idea, it was down to the American National League of baseball to float the idea in 1876 upon its founding. The NL is America’s oldest of the two baseball leagues and is one of the oldest operating sports divisions in the world.

Much like in the same way as the NFL, the NL’s original idea was to have a set of charter members to set up their own league. Following a meeting chaired by William A. Hulbert who was at the time an officer of the Chicago White Stockings, who are not to be confused with the Chicago White Sox, eight charter members agreed to form a league that included the New York Mutuals and the Philadelphia Athletics.

In sectors not traditionally seen as being American sports, too, the franchise model has seen some successes. The American soccer scene is one that has seen a large increase in draw over the last few years, as has been demonstrated not only by the personnel that the league has seen with the likes of Carlos Vela, Wayne Rooney and David Beckham but also in the betting odds on the top soccer division.

Such betting odds details how competitive that the MLS has become, unlike some of the more one-sided European leagues such as the Bundesliga in Germany and Ligue 1 in France. Those have traditionally had one club winning constantly and, in those examples, it’s Bayern Munich in Germany and Paris St. Germain in France. 

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With the MLS however, there are at least nine clubs with odds of 20/1 or below to win the league outright included Orlando City at 10/1, Columbus Crew at 6/1 and Los Angeles FC at 5/1 as the favorites. The fact they aren’t runaway favorites just portrays how far American soccer has come in the last few years, especially with the introduction of new sides to the franchise every few years.

When executed correctly, the American franchise model can be rather successful and does work in a rather intriguing way. Some may argue that the idea of having what is a closed shop could be seen as being anti-competitive, but in the case of the MLS for instance, it has fostered a competitive spirit not seen in many other leagues around the world.

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