The NFL is a private, non-profit organization. Repeat: the NFL is a private, non-profit organization. Once more: the National Football League is a private non-profit organization.
You can tell we’ve reached a point where a certain group of people have passed on or gotten older and given way to a new group of folks who just discovered the NFL’s a non-profit. And so, here we go again, with another generational round of “gee-whiz, I didn’t know the NFL was a private, non-profit organization.”
Well, it is, but what’s different about this tide of media content is it’s happening after the growth of social media, so the message is distributed through to a much, much larger group of people. Moreover, it comes just right about the time Miami Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross elected to bad mouth Will Weatherford, the Florida Speaker Of The House, and Notorious BIG fan, after Speaker Weatherford blocked a bill that would have led to a public vote on use of an increase in hotel tax dollars for an upgraded Miami Dolphins Stadium.
Now, no matter that the funds that would be used are not tax dollars generated by Miami and South Florida residents, but comes from hotel rooms paid for by visitors to the region – it was spun as a “tax grab” by the rich anyway, showing you just how terrible the Dolphins were at explaining it, and how equally bad the local media was in understanding it.
The truth doesn’t matter because we’re at a time where people can, and are, easily swayed by image and not detailed truth. Moreover, the NFL’s done nothing to counter the message, and left the heavy public relations lifting to the individual teams, with mixed results. Meanwhile law makers are writing bills to kill the NFL’s tax-exempt status – the latest effort by Oklahoma’s Republican Senator Tom Coburn.
The bill would cause a very simple change in the IRS code such that no pro-sports league could claim a tax-exempt status of any kind. The ripple effects of the bill are such that NFL teams that are asked to use their own money to help build new stadiums and turn to the NFL for help, may find that “G3” fund unavailable due to cost cutting caused by the new tax rule. And that’s on top of the fact that each of the 32 NFL teams does pay taxes, and is not exempt at all.
Contrary to what Andrew Delaney, who in 2010 wrote a very snarky paper called “TAKING A SACK: THE NFL AND ITS UNDESERVED TAX-EXEMPT STATUS,” and who told NJ.com “I don’t think losing its tax-exempt status would work an extraordinary hardship on the NFL,” when it comes to the league having money to invest in new stadiums, it would. From that perspective, Senator Coburn’s bill is nothing more than a job-killer, robbing cities and regions from having new sports facilities, and employing people to build and to run them.
So killing the NFL’s status will not result in a huge bounty of money flowing to the Government, and will cost jobs in the future. The frank fact is that an estimate of $91 million to be gained by the Federal Government, and from the NFL in Coburn’s scheme, is a flat-out joke. The total revenue of the Federal Government was $2.902 trillion in 2012 – $91 million as a percentage of that is a microscopically small 3.14 x 10-5th. Or let’s put it this way: one percent of $2.902 trillion is $29 billion, and $91 million is 31 / 100ths of one percent of that amount.
So why go through all of that for a silly $91 million revenue gain that’s less than the money the Feds squander each week? Why is Senator Coburn doing this? Did someone fail to get him the Cowboys / Redskins tickets he wanted without paying for them? What happened?
Maybe it’s that NFL Owners haven’t contributed to the GOP anywhere near as much as one would think. The Dolphins billionaire owner Stephen Ross’ political donations have gone overwhelmingly to Democratic Candidates. Dallas Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones has given far more to independents than to Republicans. Baltimore Ravens Owner Steve Biscotti has also given far more to independents than to Republicans. The Pittsburgh Steelers Owner Dan Rooney is a staunch Democrat and backer of President Obama (he was recently Ambassador to Ireland).
To be sure, there are NFL Owners who’s families have been top GOP donors in the past, but it’s not clear they’ve kept up that level of activity at present. It’s a sure bet that Senator Coburn’s aware of this, and factored it into his reasons for the bill.
Surprised? Why? What I’ve learned after working in politics for as long as I have, is all you have to do is follow the money. Coburn’s not getting any from the NFL, so he’s exacting revenge – not the best reason to try and wreck the NFL, overall.