Life lessons from Dan Snyder
It's Wednesday, April 19th. I want to talk with you about the Washington Commanders and particularly its owner, Dan Snyder (well, for as long as he's going to continue being the owner). Dan Snyder bought the Washington Redskins 24 years ago for $800 million. He's now selling the team for $6 billion. He's being forced to sell because pretty much everybody seems to hate this guy - the league, the other NFL owners, the team's players and staff, and the fans.
In 1999, when Snyder bought the team, the Redskins games were all sold out. There was a waiting list of 40,000 people. The team had the highest attendance in football. Today, the team is dead last in attendance. They've dropped from 91,000 people attending each game to 58,000. The Washington Post says Dan Snyder is a pariah, a symbol of greed and incompetence.
The media say that Snyder is viewed by the Washington, DC business leaders and politicians as arrogant and focused on profits. They say he's a social and political embarrassment. Dan Snyder reportedly demands to be referred to as Mr. Snyder by team employees and others. Former employees have claimed he was extremely demanding and difficult to work for that his insistence on being called Mr. Snyder was just one example of his overbearing management style. Let me just give you some ideas of the actions that Dan Snyder has engaged in during his ownership of the Washington Commanders.
In 2005, Snyder built a fence around the stadium to prevent fans from parking for free in surrounding neighborhoods. By building this fence, they had no choice but to park in his parking lot, paying him fees for doing so.
In 2008, Dan Snyder had the Redskins sue a retiree when she didn't renew her season tickets. She'd had the tickets for 50 years, but she couldn't afford them anymore. The Redskins sued her for breach of contract. The Redskins eventually dropped that lawsuit, and Snyder publicly apologized. In 2010, Dan Snyder sold tickets to new seats that he had installed in the upper deck of the stadium, but he didn't tell the fans who bought the tickets that their views of the field were obstructed by concrete columns.
In 2011, Dan Snyder required that fans pay for their season tickets using a Redskins branded credit card. The card came with high fees and interest rates. In 2013, Dan Snyder sold licenses to vendors so they could sell snacks outside the stadium. But then when patrons tried to bring those snacks inside, they were prohibited from doing so. They had to buy everything again.
Snyder lives in Potomac, Maryland, in a mansion alongside the Potomac River. The land between his house and the river is public parkland, and the trees there blocked Snyder's view of the river. So in 2013, he asked county officials for permission to cut down the trees, and his request was denied. So he cut them down anyway. More than 130 trees. The public and environmental activists expressed outrage over the destruction of the trees and the potential damage to the local ecosystem. Snyder ended up getting fined $100,000, a pittance compared to his vast wealth. And he got the river views he wanted.
In 2017, the team was sued by vendors who claimed that the team had failed to pay them for concessions and merchandise that were sold at the stadium. The vendors allege that they were owed more than half $1 million in unpaid fees. In 2018, Dan Snyder began charging admission fees for fans to attend training camp. No team ever charged fans to go to training camp, but Dan Snyder began charging up to $35 a head, plus $10 to park.
In 2018, the team's former director of cheerleaders accused Dan Snyder of sexualizing the cheerleading squad. One former cheerleader filed a lawsuit alleging that she was forced to pose topless during a photo shoot. Also that year, Snyder was accused of failing to return security deposits to former employees and vendors.
One former marketing executive sued the team for failing to return her $36,000 security deposit after she left her job. She also claimed that the team had engaged in other unethical and illegal practices, including underpaying employees and manipulating attendance figures to boost ticket sales. In 2019, the team was sued by a company that says the team failed to pay $650,000 for security services in 2020.
The Washington Post reported on allegations of sexual harassment and a toxic workplace. The report accused Dan Snyder of fostering a hostile work environment and failing to address complaints of misconduct by team officials. Also, in 2020, more than 40 former cheerleaders filed a lawsuit against the team alleging they had been underpaid and mistreated. Dan Snyder eventually changed the name from the Washington Redskins to the Washington Commanders, but without seeking any fan input. Fans widely hate the name, and they derisively call the team the "Washington Commies".
Under Dan Snyder's ownership, the team has lost nearly 60% of its games. It hasn't won a playoff game in nearly 20 years. And so Dan Snyder has failed both on the field and off the field, but he's won in his bank account. He's now a multi-billionaire, a hated and despised billionaire, but a billionaire, nevertheless. Poor little rich boy.
So the reason I'm citing all of this to you is that I want to make sure that the rest of us all learn a lesson from Dan Snyder. I want you to decide what really matters to you. If money is all you're after. Be careful because you just might get what you deserve. I say all of this because of a poll recently released a few weeks ago by the Wall Street Journal and the University of Chicago. I told you about this poll back on April 3rd. I told you then and I'll say it again here: in that poll, only 38% say that patriotism, religion, community involvement, hard work and having children are very important. But the majority say that what is more important than ever - money. If you think money matters more than anything else, you and Dan Snyder have a lot in common.
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