Why do so many professional sports teams lose money?

Update: If you thought this blog post was all doom and gloom before - wait until you hear the latest numbers! The NBA is now saying 22 of 30 teams lost money last year and expects league wide losses of $300 million for the 2010-2011 season. Great! My top 3 slogan related jokes - 1. "I love this game- and love doesn't cost a thing!" 2. "The NBA - Where financial meltdowns happen." 3. "NBA finances are faaaaantastic!" So it looks like the NHL will returning to Winnipeg and hockey has failed in Atlanta for the second time. I didn't fully understand why the NHL went along with the plan to relocate the Winnipeg Jets to Phoenix in 1996 and it looks even more ridiculous now. The now Phoenix Coyotes have been operating under bankruptcy protection since 2009 and the city of Glendale, AZ is on the hook for $25 million a year if the team continues to lose money. The unavoidable truth in many discussions about the business of sports is that many professional teams simply do not make money. The NBA "owns" the New Orleans Hornets after years of financial trouble. Charlotte, Memphis and Sacramento regularly come up in discussions of NBA teams that are in trouble. According to Forbes, 17 of 30 NBA teams lost money last year and recent reports show that at least 11 NHL teams are losing money (including the New York Islanders.) Rumblings of contraction have been floating around the NHL for years and things could be headed that way in the NBA. (Anybody else notice how "The NBA will be in Vegas very soon!" talk has gone silent?) The NFL is in better shape but a strike shortened can change the game faster than a Matt Leinart interception. (I haven't made a Leinart joke in a long time - I deserved one.) Baseball never fully recovered from the 90's strike, The NBA took a big hit during their last strike and the NHL almost collapsed after their strike ended. So why am I all gloom and doom? I think the problem is getting worse, not better. I love the NBA, NFL and respect the heck out of the NHL even if I don't watch that much. In my opinion the major sports leagues need to put themselves on a more sustainable road or risk becoming completely irrelevant.