Andy Juniper Headshot

The Soccer Team Whose Fans Call the Shots

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Personally, I think the Seattle Sounders -- the super successful and apparently super savvy soccer club (they have the best attendance in all of Major League Soccer, so they're doing things right) -- are on to something. Something so creative, so constructive, so crazy, it may actually make sense. And it may actually work.

The Sounders have decided to not only listen to their fans, but to take it one step farther and allow their faithful flock to decide the fate of the club's General Manager, Adrian Hanauer, via a vote. And while the whole thing smacks egregiously of democracy, typically unheard of in professional sports, or a publicity stunt worthy of Bill Veeck, ownership insists the vote that will conclude on December 7 with results being announced on Dec. 13, will be binding as long as 10,000 votes are cast.

Howdy Hanauer? Or adios Adrian?

I know what you're thinking: how on Earth did they conjure up this cockamamie scheme? Well, it comes from Europe -- where everything's cockamamie, including the currency -- via the current host of The Price is Right. You see, comedian Drew Carey, when not piloting The Price, is a minority owner of the Sounders (Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen is the majority owner) and a huge fan of European soccer where clubs like Real Madrid and FC Barcelona have actually used this democratic method to decide the fate of their leaders. As Carey told the New York Times: "(Now) the fans can strike back at us..."

Which is precisely why this will never become a popular practice on the North American sporting scene where most ownerships groups (act as though they) believe their fans are a necessary evil. And where most ownership groups (act as though they) believe no one in this world is less equipped to make crucial decisions for their team than the fans that fanatically follow the team, with the possible exception of the media that covers the club.

Still, a fan can dream. Take the Toronto sporting scene (please!). Imagine if Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd. put positions in its prized properties up for fan approval. Imagine if the jobs of the head honchos of the Leafs and the Raptors -- oh heck, just for fun, let's add the Blue Jays from the Rogers Communications' fold -- were suddenly placed in the hands of the fans.

Okay, now that Brian Burke and Bryan Colangelo have been relieved of their duties on account of the accumulating (and not-so-endearing) ineptitude of their respective clubs (Leafs/Raptors), and Alex Anthopoulos has been shown the door for failing to live up to initial promise and hype as the Jays' GM, ah, what now?

Imagine a true sporting democracy. Imagine the Leafs hiring as their new GM... Celine Dion (hey, she beat out Drake, Anne Murray and Donald S. Cherry in the voting fair and square); Michael J. Fox running the Raptors (apparently Steve Nash is too busy with that whole Laker thing, and Fox beat out boxer Justin Trudeau by three votes); and Nickelback navigating the future fortunes of Your Toronto Blue Jays.

Seriously, people: Nickelback? Chad and Avril? When David Suzuki was obviously available? Save the planet. Rescue the Blue Jays.

OK, maybe this is one of those ideas that works best on paper.