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No, Packers stock is not a scam

No one is being deceived as to what Packer stock is, so why do people refer to it as a scam?

NFL: JUL 24 Green Bay Packers Shareholders Meeting Photo by Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

People don’t seem to know what a “scam” is. Take this article, which also doesn’t know what “stock” is, and refers to purchasers as “suckers.” These are pretty common whenever the Green Bay Packers decide to raise funds through a stock sale, as everyone leaps to point out that you can’t sell your share for profit, and it’s not normal stock, and it’s a ripoff:

Except, as all of these articles are also quick to point out, none of this is a secret, or news, or a scam in the slightest. The Packers explicity tell you exactly what you get and what you don’t get, and you don’t get “nothing at all,” as the article is completely wrong about that as well.

You see, when someone is trying to scam you, they generally don’t announce that fact in big, bold letters on the web page where the scam is allegedly taking place. Scams attempt to take money from people through some sort of subterfuge, and there is no subterfuge here. The actual qualities of Packer stock are reported on ad nauseum by people both hostile and friendly to it. No one is taken advantage of, and everything is on the up-and-up.

Reporters also like to belittle what you get in return, and it’s worth noting that with ownership, you get quite a bit more than a “worthless piece of paper.” You do get that actual stock certificate, of course, which is a nice piece of art or memorabilia in its own right, and you do get the right to what is ultimately a fairly meaningless vote, but you also get an invite to the shareholders meeting. It is an interesting event which, when we aren’t in a pandemic, takes place in person inside of Lambeau Field. It may not be for everyone, but getting to attend a special event inside of Lambeau is certainly worth something. Finally, you do have special access to the shareholder merchandise portion of the pro shop, which contains merchandise that the normal fans can’t buy.

Some may argue that all of this could be accomplished through a “fan club” or something like that, but I suspect that is not the case. Ownership conveys additional meaning to your relationship with a business, and there is a level of participation built into this program that you simply cannot fake. The ideal of having your Packer stock framed above the fireplace is talked about wistfully among Packer fans everywhere, and a simple fan club would lack the cache.

The articles quoted and linked to above are generally annoying, but they’re also objectively evil. The NFL hates the ownership structure of the Green Bay Packers, which requires the team to disclose financial reporting that the league would prefer to keep secret. (Also, fan clubs do not come with mandatory financial disclosure requirements, and this has some value to shareholders as well.) The league has a vested interest in portraying these sales as wastes of money from folksy Northwoods rubes, because the last thing they want is for such a model to gain popularity among the masses. Darren Rovell calls Packer stock “the biggest racket in sports":

This is despite the fact that other franchises routinely seek and receive taxpayer financing for similar investments. (And yes, the Packers have gone to this well before too, but a stock sale is obviously better!) To portray this as a racket when compared to the routine blackmail of states and municipalities for taxpayer dollars is asinine. I’m quite sure the citizens of Oakland would have enjoyed the opportunity to take the Raiders from Mark Davis and set up a decentralized corporate structure with limits to individual stock ownership, no dividends, and limited voting rights. The entirety of the rest of the NFL is a racket, with the Packers as the lone exceptions.

The fact of the matter is that the Packer model should be the envy of fans everywhere. It keeps the team local, it reduces the tax burden inherent in having a major sports franchise present, and it brings transparency to a business that prefers to be steeped in secrecy.

Don’t let any writer talk down to you about your stock purchase.

It is 100% real stock, and more sophisticated finance people, including those within the NFL itself, understand this, hate this, and fear this. Packer ownership comes with perks and physical goods worth more than this:

Or this:

Or this,

And it supports the unique structure of America’s greatest sports franchise. It is decentralized, and forever tied to the community in which it was founded specifically because it is not “normal” common stock. If your desire for the Packers is to have them in Green Bay, and never to have a traditional Jerry Jones-style owner, you should buy some stock. If you are looking for a growth investment, why not check out NFTs? Those totally aren’t a huge scam.