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The Kansas City Chiefs may possess NFL bragging rights on the field after winning Super Bowl 54, but Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones continues to be the heavyweight champion of the entire sports world, according to Forbes.

It will be interesting to see how the Chiefs measure up financially against the Dallas Cowboys when Forbes updates its list of NFL team valuations in September. But one takeaway from this week’s compilation of the most valuable teams in sports is that success on the football field or basketball court might be overrated.

So much for the “to the victors go the spoils” school of thought.

It takes serious money to rank near the top

Forbes has published its annual list of the world’s most valuable sports franchises. For the fifth straight year, the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys hold down the No. 1 position. Forbes puts the value of Jerry Jones’ team at $5.5 billion to outpace the New York Yankees ($5 billion) and the New York Knicks ($4.6 billion). Rounding out the top five are the Los Angeles Lakers ($4.5 billion) and Golden State Warriors ($4.4 billion).

Forbes bases its rankings upon sport-by-sport lists it compiles over the course of the year. The magazine hasn’t updated its soccer data since May 2019, so it’s conceivable that No. 6 Real Madrid $4.24 billion) or No. 8 FC Barcelona ($.02 billion) has a claim to the No. 3 spot.

Last year’s top five consisted of the Cowboys, Yankees, Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, and the Knicks.

Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys get the last laugh, as usual

The Dallas Cowboys were coming off a 4-12 season when they were ranked the world’s most valuable sports franchise for the first time in 2016 at $4 billion.  By Forbes’ calculation, Jerry Jones’ NFL team has appreciated in value by 37.5% since then. That’s despite the fact that the Cowboys haven’t been to an NFC Championship Game since the 1995 season.

The increase in the Cowboys’ value since the previous Forbes compilation is $500 million, but that was calculated after a 10-6 season and a trip to the playoffs. Dallas was 8-8 last season. That makes an interesting contrast to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Forbes set the price of the Chiefs at $2.1 billion following a 10-6 record and a loss in the AFC wildcard round after the 2017 season. But going 12-4 and reaching the AFC Championship Game in 2018 only boosted their value to $2.3 billion.

So, the real moment of truth will come shortly when the magazine posts its next NFL list. The Super Bowl victory led by quarterback Patrick Mahomes has to mean something in terms of the price tag on the team, right?

As it stands now, the Chiefs are a modest 45th on the overall Forbes list, trailing even the Jacksonville Jaguars ($2.33 billion).

COVID-19 will have a lot to say about future lists

The Forbes list of most valuable sports teams is top-heavy with football teams, led by the Dallas Cowboys. The NFL has 11 franchises in the top 25. MLB and the NBA are next with five apiece.

None of the individual sports lists the magazine compiled over the course of the year has factored in the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on revenue and profitability, so the composition of that top 25 has the potential to change greatly a year from now.

Because of the timing of sports seasons, the NFL has been unaffected by the pandemic on the field thus far. But it now faces the prospect of playing in empty stadiums or before small crowds – assuming the 2020 season doesn’t have to be abandoned altogether.

Owners of NBA teams may owe commissioner Adam Silver something more than words of gratitude. The NBA has successfully restarted its season under quarantine at Disney World and has a real chance of conducting its playoffs, thereby banking the majority of its remaining TV money.

The Spanish soccer teams, as well as No. 10 Manchester United and No. 24 Bayern Munich,  were also able to resume their league seasons.

On the other hand, the Major League Baseball season is teetering on the brink of disaster with the Miami Marlins’ roster ravaged by a COVID-19 outbreak and the St. Louis Cardinals struggling with their own problems. With stadium revenue a total loss in a scheduled 60-game season without fans, losing their remaining TV money would be a blow to owners.

The Yankees, No. 14 Los Angeles Dodgers ($3.4 billion), and No. 16 Boston Red Sox ($3.3 billion) are among the teams that could see their value plummet.


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