The NFL and the freeloading gang of pro-sports teams

Feb 12, 2014 by AFP

Super Bowl weekend Patrick Hruby had an article in Politico calling the NFL out for being the National Freeloader League. Hruby’s piece highlighted the special favors the NFL is granted by Congress — mainly tax free, non-profit status and piles of taxpayer-funded handouts. Hruby lays out some numbers that paint a clear picture of just how much the NFL has scammed the taxpayers:

  • The NFL — a non-profit organization — brings in more than $9 billion a year and expects to have annual revenue of $25 billion by 2027 (BTW, the same non-profit status applies to the PGA and NHL).
  • NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was paid $29.5 million in 2012!
  • Even worse, former-commissioner Paul Tagliabue was paid $46.4 million from 2007-20012 despite having retired in 2006.

Yes – this is the real story of the non-profit, multi-billion dollar NFL.

What makes this story all that much worse is that the NFL has managed to con taxpayers and elected officials into thinking that they need our help, and by help I mean money. Every single year taxpayers handover millions of dollars to help NFL teams build and renovate their stadiums. But the NFL is not alone in this practice, it’s a con that is played on us by pro-baseball, hockey and basketball.  Here in Florida, pro-soccer and Nascar want in on the deal too.

Florida politicians have given $267.2 million in state tax dollars to professional sports teams since the 1990’s. And that’s only what the state hands out – which is paltry when compared to what the teams con out of local taxpayers. Last year the Miami Dolphins, Jacksonville Jaguars, Daytona 500 and Orlando City Soccer attempted to pass legislation that would have given them more of our tax dollars. This is the money that is used to pay for education, infrastructure, and services for Florida’s neediest citizens.

This year the teams are back. They’ve hired big name lobbying firms and now have celebrity David Beckham on their side, since he has announced he wants to bring a professional soccer team to Miami. The teams claim they are job creators and economic developers (which has been debunked by dozens of economists) which justifies state and local taxpayers giving them hundreds of millions of dollars.

It’s sad that this scam has been perpetuated through the local, state and federal levels of government, and that elected officials have come to believe that it’s appropriate to use tax money to help professional sports franchises pad their bottom line. To be frank — it’s not appropriate. It’s outrageous. And just because something has been done in the past, doesn’t mean it should be continued or expanded. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

A few of our state and local officials have vocally opposed giving tax dollars to pro-sports teams, getting attacked by the teams as a result. These brave few are willing to stand up for what is right despite the extreme political pressure being put on them by uber-lobbyists and billionaire sports team owners.  It would be nice to see more of Florida’s elected officials stand up against the freeloading gang of professional sports teams and tell them no.