Huffington Post: the NFL is a parasite

by News

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The Ray Rice wife-beating scandal and cover-up is only the tip of an iceberg of abuse that the National Football League, and others, heap upon society. Baseball and hockey aren’t much better.

This issue is not about one or even a dozen thugs who have been caught beating up females, children and dogs. It’s about the professional sports industry and how it is playing all the country’s taxpayers — male and female — for fools. And the damage they cause is not merely financial.

The over-sized American sports industry celebrates attributes such as physical strength, tolerance for pain and discomfort and great hand-eye coordination. These are fine, but they are the traits of warriors, not software engineers.

Enjoying sporting events is fun, but, like Wall Street, the subsidies and salaries have gone too far. These privileges are at the expense of taxpayers and society as a whole as the Rice fiasco illustrates.

For starters, why is the NFL itself a tax-exempt entity? This is an unjustifiable benefit that other entertainment entities don’t enjoy.

Owners are also privileged. Because they are mostly private companies, they are not required to publish their financial statements, and obscene profits, unless they volunteer to. This applies even when owners are asking local governments for huge stadium, merchandising, parking, security and other subsidies from taxpayers.

For instance, The Atlantic described how in Minnesota, the Vikings wanted a new stadium or threatened to move. The team got $506 million from the state government despite a budget deficit of $1.1 billion. The team, owned by a rich guy, refused to disclose his team’s financial condition.

Professional leagues are exempt from anti-trust requirements and are a cartel of owners who curb competition in order to gouge the economy. This allows them to occupy publicly funded monopoly venues, to control supply/demand of teams and control salaries, ticket prices as well as television rights.

These monopolies also rely, for free, on universities to subsidize farm teams where they can pick and choose talent. This means millions are spent on team budgets and athletic programs instead of on developing Nobel Prize winners or algorithms.

These leagues resist attempts to change rules or equipment in order to make their sports safer and never foot some of the bill. Emergency rooms, hospitals and orthopedic operating theaters are filled with casualties from sports that are too dangerous for most to play. Football has generated a brisk business in hip and knee replacements and concussions.

Despite their privileged position in society, the leagues have not policed their affairs properly. Since the Rice controversy, a list of players who have been charged or exempted from charges have been widely distributed, showing managerial malpractice and indifference toward women and others.

Imagine if a player purposely and seriously injured another player on the field. They would be criminally investigated and booted out of the game. So it logically follows that if a player purposely and seriously injures another person off the field, they must be permanently dismissed and handed over to police.

The most disturbing aspect of the Ray Rice case is that the NFL influence is so great that New Jersey law officials did not charge him. This illustrates how the sports cult has corrupted society.
For these and other reasons, the world of professional sports should be held to account. Owners should disclose their finances, leagues should pay taxes, stadiums should be built by owners and, in this case, the NFL Commissioner and other heads should roll.

The game should be boycotted and shamed nationally. In Baltimore, a local pizza shop gave anyone who gave up their Ray Rice jersey a free pizza and a $2.70 donation to the House of Ruth, a shelter for abused women and children. The NFL should give millions every year to such causes.

Politically, a cost-benefit analysis of the obscene subsidies and privileges surrounding professional sport is overdue. Until then, bring on Fantasy Football websites where fans can watch virtual sporting events played by avatars. That would free up trillions in future, now spent subsidizing millionaires and billionaires, so we could fix the nation’s potholes, health care system and high schools.