Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Public Service Announcement: The NFL Is a Registered Non-Proft Corporation

In the above picture, the Saint represents the NFL, and the Bear represents taxpayers.

I meant to post this back during football season, but, well, life got in the way. Better late than never, I suppose.

I guess I should stop being surprised by news like this, but I was truly surprised to learn
  1. that the NFL is a registered non-profit organization, and
  2. that in spite of earning billions of dollars a year, it manages to squeeze millions (and even billions) of dollars in public subsidies from taxpayers.
What kind of nonsense is the NFL up to? Well, let me quote the linked Atlantic article:
Though Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal claims to be an anti-spending conservative, each year the state of Louisiana forcibly extracts up to $6 million from its residents’ pockets and gives the cash to [New Orleans Saints owner Tom] Benson as an “inducement payment”—the actual term used—to keep Benson from developing a wandering eye.
 Or this:
CenturyLink Field, where the Seattle Seahawks play, opened in 2002, with Washington State taxpayers providing $390 million of the $560 million construction cost. The Seahawks, owned by Paul Allen, one of the richest people in the world, pay the state about $1 million annually in rent in return for most of the revenue from ticket sales, concessions, parking, and broadcasting (all told, perhaps $200 million a year). Average people are taxed to fund Allen’s private-jet lifestyle.
In addition to all of that, the NFL is a registered non-profit - a non-profit that pays its top five executives $60 million a year and sucks in billions in public subsidies, and then gives itself huge props when it returns a few hundred thousand dollars to the communities that it's fleecing.

It would be farcical, except for the fact that the NFL is taking money away from schools, hospitals, and roads:
The NFL asked Congress to grant pro football a waiver from the disclosure rule. During the lobbying battle, Joe Browne, then the league’s vice president for public affairs, told The New York Times, “I finally get to the point where I’m making 150 grand, and they want to put my name and address on the [disclosure] form so the lawyer next door who makes a million dollars a year can laugh at me.” Browne added that $150,000 does not buy in the New York area what it would in “Dubuque, Iowa.” The waiver was denied. Left no option, the NFL revealed that at the time, Browne made about $2 million annually.
Crikey. Well, I guess that's another reason for me to never give the NFL a dime of my money, and to not give them money though advertisers by watching their games. But seriously - the NFL is profitable enough to survive (and thrive) without all of these public dollars. And the same applies to the NBA and MLB. At what point does greed become a shameful sin?

And from a rational, cost-benefit perspective, this seems like really bad public policy, very much like the terribly public policy of providing public subsidies to TV and movie producers, which I've written about before. There's really no excuse for such bad public policy.


  1. baseball is also a non-profit.....



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