Thursday, February 11, 2016

Fumble

I did not watch The Super Bowl, 2016. The third-most-watched television show in history had 111.9 million TV viewers. I wasn’t interested in the match nor in the half-time concert. I know. Send me off to a Russian gulag as I’m clearly an enemy of the state. Football never held much fascination for me – not sure whether that’s because I’m just not much of a sports guy or a tragic week in eighth grade that is better left to another blog at another time.  While it’s not my thing – I don’t begrudge others who enjoy it. I’ve always resisted the idea that taxpayers should support such sporting franchises or facilities. Usually that manifests itself in tax breaks, incentives, etc. for a team to build in a particular place over another. Beyond these breaks we now learn that the Pentagon has paid the NFL $5.4 million dollars to honor veterans.

The Business Insider reports that 14 teams “accepted millions of dollars from the defense department over the course of three years in exchange for honoring troops and veterans before games.”

Before a game begins the teams take to the field and bring out veterans and service members to ‘honor’ them. It’s a powerful and symbolic way to tie the inherent heroism and patriotism of the American military with America’s sport. There is an implicit assumption that the ‘honoring’ is due to respect, appreciation and affection. Nope. It’s due to cash. Who’s paid for this propaganda? The taxpayer has funded this through the Pentagon.



Perspective is important. $5.4 million is a lot of money to me personally, and to most people. It is for most organizations too. For the Pentagon, however, whose 2017 fiscal year budget request is $582 billion – the $5.4 million cost is 0.0010% of its expenditures. Tiny. One penny out of $1,000. But that’s not the only financial support American give the league.

The taxpayer also underwrites the league in other ways. The NFL has 32 teams – each has an average valuation of $2 billion per Forbes. Not one penny of this $64 billion dollars is subject to taxes. USA Today reported that In 1966 “Congress amended the law to specifically list professional football leagues as 501 (c) 6 organizations — along with chambers of commerce and boards of trade. It happened as a result of horse trading with Congress that included an antitrust exemption for the NFL that helped it merge with the AFL, a rival league. In exchange, Congress received pledges from the NFL, including a promise to add a franchise in New Orleans.” As the head of this not-for-profit Commissioner Roger Goode earns upwards of $30 million per year.

“Promoting and increasing the public's understanding and appreciation of military service in the New Jersey Army National Guard increases the propensity for service in our ranks," National Guard spokesman Patrick Daugherty told nj.com, referring to the $377,000 the Jets received from the Jersey Guard between 2011-2014.  


The recent movie “Concussion” detailed the corrupt nature of the sport as it relates to the health and well-being of its players – all the way down to the ‘Pop Warner’ leagues. It shouldn’t be surprising that at the professional level there’s deception as well. This scheme reflects badly on the game and the military. It’s a true fumble.

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