As the 2017 Sports Business Awards concluded last week in New York, a night dominated by the Chicago Cubs’ historic success last year, the room was filled with sounds of Eddie Vedder’s “All The Way.” The Pearl Jam frontman’s song, first performed a decade ago before Tom Ricketts and his family purchased the Cubs, is a hopeful, yearning ode for his beloved but long-suffering team.
But on this night, the song instead became the soundtrack of a celebratory victory lap for what has become one of the biggest stories in sports history, both on and off the field. The Cubs, which last fall broke their 108-year championship curse and have remade their entire business operations and transformed Wrigley Field and the surrounding neighborhood, won Sports Team of the Year. Ricketts, the club’s chairman, won Executive of the Year, and Major League Baseball won Sports League of the Year in part due to a Chicago Cubs-Cleveland Indians World Series that drew the sport’s largest TV audiences in a generation.
Vedder’s song says the Cubs’ faithful “are not fair-weather, but foul-weather fans, we’re like brothers in arms in the streets and the stands.” Similarly, Ricketts said the years of work that led to last year’s title and last week’s honors involved no shortcuts and a total commitment from the many employees and fans aiding him along the way.
“We asked a lot of people to keep the faith with us, and thankfully they did and allowed us to build it the right way and do it the right away,” Ricketts said. “And the people who did all the work, they’re the ones who deserve this award. … The monkey’s off our back now. We’re not a cursed team anymore. There’s no goats, or Bartmans anymore. Now, we can just look forward.”
was the lead section of a longer article published in www.sportbusinessdaily.com
on 29 May 2017. Author is Eric Fisher, SBD/SBJ staff writer.