By Mike Sullivan

There are two things that truly fascinate me in this world. Sports and Business.

Anytime I have the chance to read up on the combination of both of these worlds, I always take advantage. I love to learn more about the business side of sports, it’s fascinating to me. When studying sports businesses, you really learn about just how important sports are to our economy.

You also learn at how ridiculously valuable these sports teams are nowadays. It’s crazy. These entities are some of the richest corporations in the world and there’s really no sign of slowing down at all.

One of my favorite rankings of the year just came out. I’m talking about Forbes annual list of the 50 most valuable sports teams in the world. The 2017 list is very interesting.

First, the parameters.

The cutoff to qualify among the world's most valuable sports franchises is higher than ever, up 18% this year to $1.75 billion. There are 36 franchises worth at least $1 billion that did not make the top 50. 

According to Forbes, we can credit soaring TV contracts for the rising franchise values, as well as labor deals with players that almost ensure profitability barring outrageous spending on payroll by an owner.

It should come to no surprise that the NFL is by far the most profitable sports league in the world. The average team earned an operating profit (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) of $91 million. Not one NFL team banked less than $26 million. It’s pretty wild when you think about it.

But here’s the stat that will make your head spin. 29 of the 32 NFL teams cracked the top 50 most valuable franchise list. Only the Bengals, Lions and Bills missed the cut. There were 8 MLB clubs that made the list, and 7 each from the NBA and European soccer.

Let’s take a look at the top 10 on the list:

Rank, Team, Value, 1-Yr change (Sport)

1. Dallas Cowboys, $4.2 billion, 5% (NFL)

2. New York Yankees, $3.7 billion, 9% (MLB)

3. Manchester United, $3.69 billion, 11% (Soccer)

4. Barcelona, $3.64 billion, 2% (Soccer)

5. Real Madrid, $3.58 billion, -2% (Soccer)

6. New England Patriots, $3.4 billion, 6% (NFL)

7. New York Knicks, $3.3 billion, 10% (NBA)

8. New York Giants, $3.1 billion, 11% (NFL)

9. San Francisco 49ers, $3 billion, 11% (NFL)

9. Los Angeles Lakers, $3 billion, 11% (NBA)

11. Washington Redskins, $2.95 billion, 4% (NFL)

It must be pretty embarrassing for the Lions, Bengals and Bills to be the only 3 NFL teams not on this list. But the fact that 29 of the 32 NFL teams are indeed on the list of the 50 most valuable sports franchises in the world speaks to how powerful the NFL is.

There’s no doubt the NFL is the richest, most profitable, and most popular sports league in the world. And these Forbest numbers prove it. Even with some ratings decline this past season, the NFL is still killing it, and they will only continue to remain on the top of the mountain.

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