"Many people don't realize this, but 'that' is not the real reason they play the games. Far from it," said former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who oversaw thousands of games during his tenure from 1989 to 2005. "In fact, 'that' has never been the reason. When I was commissioner, we played the games exclusively because we had developed a business model requiring games to be played. There was nothing else to it. 'That' was the farthest thing from our minds."
Tagliabue said he once presented 'that' as the reason for the games to be played when negotiating the league's TV contract with network executives and was laughed out of the room. And while the former commissioner and other professional sports executives confirm 'that' is not the reason they play the games, there was similar agreement in the amateur ranks.
"'That'? As the reason they play the games? Hell, no," said Little League president Jeff Connor. "They play the games to learn the fundamentals, to compete, to learn teamwork and to have fun. That is why, not 'that'. Definitely not 'that.' And that's a fact."
So while one of sport's supposed truths seems to be completely false, there is still some confusion.
"'That' is not why they play the games. Understood," said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. "But who is 'they'? Is it them? Or someone else? I think we need to figure out who 'they' is first. 'That' is secondary, I don't care if they claim that's not the case, whoever they are."