I own a sports team! That’s right. Yours truly is a proud owner of Borussia Dortmund! Now, before you go off envisioning me diving into a Scrooge McDuck money pool, let’s make something clear:
I now own 10 shares of stock in Borrussia Dortmund, an investment of about $47 and some change. Yeah, I didn’t really go “all in.” That’d be stupid, and frankly, I don’t have enough money where making an investment like that would have any impact except on our personal finances, and not in a good way. Sports team stocks are notorious for underperforming in comparison to the stock market in general, and they are also infamously fickle—team wins a championship, price goes up a little, team faces a relegation scare (as BVB currently do), price plummets. So this was not a money play, so to speak.
I have absolutely no delusions about making money off this investment. That’s not why I bought in, quite literally, to the Dortmund team.
For sports fans, there is a constant negotiation with the idea of justification of fandom. It’s social, in that fans constantly call into question the underlying justification of someone else’s fandom in a way to prove their own undying love. But it is also deeply personal. I find, with myself, that it is not enough just to like a team because I do, I always feel a need to have some sort of real, tangible or historical justification for that love. I can like the Red Sox because I grew up in Worcester, Massachusetts. I can like the Patriots for the same reason. I can support the University of Wisconsin because my parents are alumni, and even that feels like a reach, as though my support for the badgers is unwarranted.
It’s remarkably superficial, and yet it’s a common narrative in sports fandom, where discussions about levels of devotion are as meaningful and erudite as a conversation about who has the faster sports car or who has the bigger, ahem, deck.
And yet, somehow for me, justification for fandom, according to my own personal and barely reasoned rational, remains a constant negotiation, and a motivator.
Doing some research this week, I was excited to learn about how Borussia Dortmund is a publicly traded sports team. In fact, a slight majority of the team ownership is “free float,” or public. It is similar in many ways to the Green Bay Packers, in that anyone who can get access to shares can buy in to the team, quite literally.
I find that kind of structure very appealing. In an age where megalomaniacal billionaire owners occupy a tremendous amount of the spotlight in the sports world, and wield large-scale influence on the way the sports world unfolds, it is refreshing to think that Abe Stein in Rhode Island can have a stake, however small, in a Bundesliga football team. It’s ideological, and populist, but that’s me.
And shallow as it seems, those 10 shares, that $47 investment, which is less than a ticket to a match, justifies my support for Dortmund. It validates me as a fan, maybe not for everyone, and likely not for the fan who grew up in Dortmund, wearing bright yellow footie pajamas and chanting Borussia Dortmund cheers around the house as a toddler. But it is enough for me, and as my interest in European soccer continues to grow, I’m really excited to have a Bundesliga team that is mine.
So if you see me parading around in bright yellow more these days, you can just chalk it up to the fact that I am a “wacky sports team owner” trying to show the guys on the team that I have their back. Oh, and if you’re listening out there board, good job signing Reus, let’s hold on to Gündoğan and Hummels too, ok? Thumbs up.