George Steinbrenner vs Vince McMahon
For many fans, this morning I awoke shaking off the visual effects of Orton’s RKO on Evan Bourne to find that MLB’s own Shooting Star, George Steinbrenner, had passed away this morning in Tampa. Today’s sports discussion has mercifully shifted away from LeBron James and Tiger Woods and onto the legacy of "The Boss." He is being called "The Greatest Owner in Sports."
But is he the greatest owner in sports / entertainment?
On the Wrestlezone forums, we frequently find ourselves debating about and drawing parallels between professional wrestling and pro sports. Throughout history, wrestling and sports have maintained a dichotimous relationship. It’s amazing how the two have managed to be so different, yet so similar. Events such as the fan brawl at the Palace of Auburn Hills a few years back have invoked the name of Vince McMahon and WWE. Today is no different, as I seek to exploit the passing of Big Stein to ignite the debates once again.
Vincent Kennedy McMahon inherited a fairly well-known but still fledgling wrestling promotion from his father.
George Steinbrenner, along with a small ownership group, purchased the Yankees for $8.8 million.
McMahon’s net worth in this past decade was estimated by Forbes Magazine to be around $1.1 billion.
As of 2009, Forbes estimated Steinbrenner’s net worth around $1.18 billion.
McMahon created sports entertainment’s most powerful brands, such as Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, and Wrestlemania.
Steinbrenner took an established sports team and morphed it into the most powerful sports brand in North America, aside from perhaps Nike.
McMahon revolutionized large-scale events through his use of Pay-Per-View, which is now mimicked by mixed-martial arts, pro boxing, and competing pro wrestling organizations.
Steinbrenner revolutionized sports on cable by selling the Yankees cable rights to MSG before creating the YES Network.
McMahon took a hitherto territory-based niche form of entertainment and turned it into a world-wide, oligopilous corporation.
Steinbrenner helped create the current sports climate of free agency with the contracts he lured men such as Dave Winfield and Reggie Jackson to the Yankees with.
McMahon was accused of sexual harassment twice (and no charges were ever filed) and indicted on steroids charges once.
Steinbrenner was banned from baseball for 3 years for soliciting a bookie for "dirt" on Dave Winfield.
McMahon fired Jim Ross some 3 or 4 times.
Steinbrenner fired Billy Martin 5 times. And everyone else at least once. I think he fired me once, when I was 7.
McMahon has overcome the challenges of a negative perception of pro wrestling by mainstream media, and overcame it to oversee two – possibly three – major boom periods in pro wrestling.
Steinbrenner has overcome endless criticism in a bureaucratic, union-regulated sport to become a demonstrative self-made billionaire.
I could keep going, but I think you get the point. There are such striking similarities between the two men, but the tragic fact is, while today the mainstream sports media reveres and ulogizes Steinbrenner as the greatest owner ever, if it were McMahon who had passed away this morning, the tone of the mainstream sports media would likely be short, mocking, or even derisive. Steinbrenner was an owner in a sport where steroids were an epidemic in the 1990’s, but he will get a pass. When McMahon passes away, media will talk about he "finally has to face the wrestlers he helped kill with a steady diet of steroids and pain killers." The double standard exists, and as wrestling fans, we all know it’s there, right or wrong.
In the meantime, I think we owe it to both George Steinbrenner AND Vince McMahon to discuss who is truly the greatest executive / owner in sports entertainment. If you’re interested in weighing in on this topic, I invite you to visit the Wrestlezone Forums at this link:
As always, please review the forum rules should you decide to register and post. Until then, R.I.P Mr. Steinbrenner, and Let’s Go Mets!
Bearhugs and Suplexes,
Chris W. Fitzpatrick