TOLEDO, Ohio -- When an auto dealership treats its employees to an outing at a major league sporting event, there are rarely motivations beyond improving morale or rewarding people for a job well done.
But what's the message employees are getting? There on the field or court some distance away is a collection of elite, narcissistic millionaires who have reached the pinnacle of their craft. These are top-flight athletes on display, and variations in performance are measured in minuscule amounts.
In short, they have arrived. And barring an ongoing pennant race, they're usually not hungry.
Which is why I love minor league sports.
A confession: I grew up and still live in a metro area -- Toledo -- that Street & Smith's Sports Business Journal considered the second-best minor league market in the country in 2015. Toledo won that same contest, which is based on attendance against a region's population, unemployment and wealth, in 2013.
Toledo's Triple-A baseball club, the Mud Hens, drew more than 531,000 fans in 2015, despite finishing the season with the second- worst record in its league. In fact, attendance at the nation's 176 Minor League Baseball clubs topped 42.5 million fans in 2015, the third-highest number in minor league history, behind only 2008 and 2007.