The NFL may be the most popular sports league in the country (if not the world), but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been receiving its fair share of double coverage from the media lately.
This week’s episode of Frontline, “League of Denial,” looks at “the NFL’s concussion crisis.” And this month’s issue of The Atlantic includes Gregg Easterbrook’s article “How the NFL Fleeces Taxpayers,” based on Easterbrook’s new book, The King of Sports: Football’s Impact on America. (Spoiler alert: it’s mostly bad.) Easterbrook’s excellent article explains how “taxpayers fund the stadiums, antitrust law doesn’t apply to broadcast deals, the league enjoys nonprofit status, and Commissioner Roger Goodell makes $30 million a year.”
The Atlantic article is filled with many eye-popping, stomach-turning stats, but this one stands out among them:
“Judith Grant Long, a Harvard University professor of urban planning, calculates that league-wide, 70 percent of the capital cost of NFL stadiums has been provided by taxpayers, not NFL owners. Many cities, counties, and states also pay the stadiums’ ongoing costs, by providing power, sewer services, other infrastructure, and stadium improvements.”
But that’s not all! (In a cheesy game show voice.) Here’s what the dollars and nonsense add up and subtract to for the new megalithic Cowboys Stadium, near in Dallas, which, as Easterbrook notes, “has been appraised at $1 billion.”
“At the basic property-tax rate of Arlington, Texas, where the stadium is located, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones would owe at least $6 million a year in property taxes. Instead he receives no property-tax bill, so Tarrant County taxes the property of average people more than it would otherwise.”
Nice non-work, if you can get it.
I highly recommend reading the rest of Easterbrook’s article. Then check out David Sirota’s recent offering at In These Times, “NFL Scores Big With Tax-Exempt Status,” which discusses “how football symbolizes economic unfairness in America.”
Then, if you are so desiring, check out and sign this Change.org petition asking Congress “to revoke the tax-exempt status of the National Football League,” which was created by Lynda Woolard, of New Orleans.
Then hope Gronk is healthy enough to play this Sunday against Woolard’s undefeated Saints. Because Brady’s bunch is in trouble without him.
Next time: Why the Green Bay Packers should be every football fan’s second favorite team.