Ranking Commissioners of America's Major Sports Leagues Amid MLB's Circus Negotiations
By Joe Birdsall
Acting as the commissioner of a professional sports league is often a thankless job. Some commissioners have done wonders for their sport, increasing popularity and making labor negotiations appear seamless, while others have upset fans and players.
With MLB's ongoing labor dispute casting doubt upon the 2020 season, here's our ranking of the four major American commissioners with their jobs in the spotlight more than ever.
4. Gary Bettman, NHL
While the NHL has a more niche fan base than the other leagues listed here, commissioner Gary Bettman is universally disliked. After three lockouts over the course of his tenure and one fully canceled season, Bettman has earned the vitriol of fans, and is often booed at public appearances. His decision to ban players from participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics was also controversial and heavily criticized.
3. Rob Manfred, MLB
While Rob Manfred checks in at third in these rankings, the margin between him and Gary Bettman is now small. The ongoing MLB labor dispute has the potential to be disastrous in both the short term and long term, and Manfred has not helped matters. After recently guaranteeing that MLB would hold a 2020 season, Manfred backtracked Monday, stating that he was now unsure if that would be possible. With baseball's popularity declining, Manfred needs to find a solution quickly.
2. Roger Goodell, NFL
While it may be surprising to see Roger Goodell this high, his tenure has been better than some will admit. While he deserves plenty of criticism for his handling of the Colin Kaepernick situation and some nonsense suspensions, Goodell has kept the NFL popular, and his handling of 2020 virtual NFL Draft showed a level of professionalism and adaptability that fans should appreciate.
1. Adam Silver, NBA
Adam Silver is perhaps the only American commissioner who is widely liked, and for good reason. Since taking over for David Stern, he has been extremely open to new ideas and has governed like a true leader by listening to the players, which has helped the NBA increase in popularity. He's given players a voice and platform, and that's further promoted the league as the most progressive in perhaps the entire world.