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Do Ex-Sports Players Make for Good Team Owners?

Will Jeter knock his new job out of the park?

Entering the 2018 MLB season, when Derek Jeter became part of the management structure at Marlins Park, eyebrows were raised, as he was the only ex-player to be operating in any kind of ownership capacity.

The move took on yet more significance as the ugly specter of yet another damaging owner vs. player standoff reared its head and divided fans and observers alike.

With the jury still out on whether Jeter’s appointment has been a success or a mishap, we thought it best to look at how ex-players from baseball and other sports have fared when they hang up their jerseys to don an owner’s suit and tie.

David Beckham

For years, David Beckham was trying to find his very own MLS soccer team in Miami, but it was only this year that he finally saw his players take to the field.

Unfortunately for the legendary ex-star of Real Madrid and Manchester United, his Inter Miami side registered the worst-ever start to an MLS campaign, picking up a nasty habit of getting red cards and botching great goalscoring opportunities.

Although it is too early to judge Beckham’s ownership just yet, we can’t help but wonder whether someone whose business ventures outside of sport previously amounted to him slipping on his brand of underpants, really readied him for the cut and thrust of the boardroom.

Being a pro athlete is altogether different from running a franchise

Shaquille O’Neal

When it comes to business dealings behind the scenes, Shaq is one of the undoubted kings of getting dollar bills to do the legwork for him, boasting investments across multiple industries and sectors.

In the world of sports ownership, this NBA Hall of Famer prefers to take a back seat, investing his large capital funds with established owners he trusts.

He currently owns a stake in the Sacramento Kings and even an eSports team by the name of NRG eSports. However, Shaq’s presence hasn’t rubbed off on the Kings, who continue to be the whipping boys of the NBA, as their long odds of NBA championship success imply.

Tony Parker

Another basketball player who decided to leap upstairs to the boardroom is French-American star Tony Parker, who, not content with owning just the French men’s league’s ASVEL team, decided he would also purchase the women’s team Lyon Basket.

Extolling the virtues of a hands-on approach, Parker has overseen ASVEL becoming French league champions in the 2018-19 season and his women’s team matching the feat in the same year. This makes Parker a rare success story.

He has even made strong indications that he would one day like to own or co-own an NBA franchise to add to his collection.

Nolan Ryan

Ryan is the only other former player aside from Jeter that has recently held an ownership position in the MLB, looking after the interests of the Texas Rangers alongside Chuck Greenberg between 2008 and 2013.

Eventually, the two owners would fall out over their diverging visions for how the franchise should move forward, a perhaps inevitable byproduct of an ex-player wanting what’s best for the team, butting heads with suits more interested in merchandise sales and the bottom line.

Connie Mack

If you ever find yourself in an argument with someone who says that players can never become owners, then make sure you tell them all about Connie Mack.

Mack became such a successful owner of the A’s that most fans forget he had a decent playing career beforehand.

Not only did he own the Athletics, but he even took it upon himself to completely re-imagine what they should be as a baseball club, harvesting five World Series titles along the way.

If Jeter can bring even a smidgen of that success to Miami, he will etch himself into Florida sporting folklore forever.