For more than fifty years now the Bundesliga is an important part of German sporting and cultural life and identity. Yet there are voices who harshly criticize the growing trend of commercialization which allegedly tends to undermine the true sporting nature of the game. The author points out that there is no need at all to be nostalgic about the assumed "good old days" of German football. In fact, the first years of the Bundesliga were characterized by dubious economic practices: While the German Football Association officially stuck to the ideal of amateurism, a shadow economy was flourishing around the clubs and its players. This insincerity and corruption became a burden especially for the involved communities. In contrast to that, the article argues, the often demonized period of neo-liberalism, with its final take-off since the 1990s, has given Bundesliga clubs the opportunity to create a highly professional profile and management – a development that goes to the benefit not only of sport itself but also to its social and cultural surroundings.