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Are You Ready for Some Non-Profit

are you ready for some non profit copy

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By Adam Weatherall

2/1/2014

 

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    Vince Lombardi once said “Individual commitment to a group effort, that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work”. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the Stetson wearing, parable dropping Lombardi, he was the coach who lead the Green Bay Packers to the first two Super Bowl victories ever. vince lombardiWith those victories, Coach Lombardi solidified his place in the history books, his better quotes being recorded right alongside him. The verse previously mentioned is not his most famous or even his most impactful bit of wordage, it is however the best way to sum up the NFL currently. Even though this quote is so socialist in nature, it easily could have been credited to Lenin or Stalin and its origin maintain believability. For many Americans are unaware that the National Football League is a non-profit organization and therefore tax exempt, in the same way that the Goodwill or the Salvation Army claim to be. But with all the flak directed at other non-profits as of late with specificity toward the companies’ actual profits, it seemed to me only sporting that we examine the biggest known abuser in this field. While more than 100 million Americans will soon climb in front of the television to view the public spectacle that is the Super Bowl, many are unaware that much of the bill for said events is completely paid for with taxpayer dollars.

    In truth the average American who lives near a football stadium, paid in some way for that stadiums initial construction from their own personal taxes, regardless of said person’s proclivity to football. They do so on behalf of billionaire team owners who despite their commitments to capitalism, could not be persuaded to come out of pocket for their own personal businesses. Last year we saw several examples of taxpayer dollars being given directly to the NFL and the wealthy men who control it. In Virginia, Republican Governor Bob McDonnell, who presents himself to the people as a budget conscious conservative, took $4 million out of the taxpayers’ clenched fists and handed the money directly to the Washington Redskins…The reason?  For the team to upgrade a workout facility. A facility I am assuming is not available for public use. McDonnell approved the gift while the state legislature was out of session, and therefore couldn’t comment on his decision. The Redskins’ owner, Dan Snyder, has a net worth estimated by Forbes at $1 billion. But apparently not even a billionaire shuns a 4 million dollar tax free gift. Governor Bob Mcdonnell, recently was indicted for another unrelated incident involving money and political influence.

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    For another example we head back to my home state in California. The City of Santa Clara broke ground on a $1.3 billion stadium for the 49ers recently. The deal includes $116 million in public funding, with private capital making up the rest. At least, that’s the way how the deal was presented on its surface. An entirely new government entity was created for this endeavor, called the “Santa Clara Stadium Authority”, and they are borrowing $950 million, mostly from Goldman Sachs, to provide the majority of the “private” financing. Who are the board members of the “Santa Clara Stadium Authority”? Why, the members of the Santa Clara City Council of course, who chose themselves to head this impartial board. In actuality, the City of Santa Clara is providing most of the “private” funding. Should something go wrong, taxpayers will be forced to go the whole nine yards and pay the rest .The 49ers have committed to paying Santa Clara $24.5 million annually in rent for four decades, which makes the deal, a 40-year loan at less than 1 percent interest. At the time of the agreement, U.S. Treasury bonds were selling for 3 percent, meaning the Santa Clara contract values the NFL as a better risk than the United States Government. And perhaps they are right, after all, the U.S. government has to pay back debts it incurs unlike the NFL which simply gets free money from you and me.

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    IRS rules generally forbid the use of non-profit status as a means for personal enrichment. Yet according to the league’s annual tax return in 2011, the NFL paid a total of almost $60 million to its leading five executives. The NFL’s commissioner Roger Goodell who himself is paid nearly 30 million a year, justified his extravagant salary on the grounds that “the free market rewards executives whose organizations perform well” .But almost nothing about the league’s operations involves the “free market”. Taxpayers fund most of the stadium costs; the league itself is tax-exempt; television images made in those publicly funded stadiums are privatized, with all gains kept by the owners; and then the entire organization is protected by a host of ancient antitrust exemptions.

    All of this makes American football seem more like the coliseum and the gladiators of old, providing publicly funded spectacle to distract from other larger societal issues. Taxpayers fund the stadiums, antitrust law doesn’t apply to vince lombardi fist 2broadcast deals, the league enjoys nonprofit status, and the National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell makes $30 million a year. All of this being said, the only people in the NFL being paid a non-profit wage seem to be the cheerleaders, who will their teams to victory from the sidelines, many of whom are paid as little as 150 dollars a game… I hope that one day citizens will unite to stop the giveaway of our tax dollars to America’s richest sports league. Maybe if NFL returns to an “even playing field” then the sport can return to the grid iron glory days of Vince Lombardi. Maybe, just maybe, then the Super Bowl will be more about the sport and less about the nipples that slipped at halftime or the extravagant commercials. Because Lombardi left us with many quotable phrases during his tenure as head coach for the Green Bay Packers. Phrases like, “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” and “A winner never quits and a quitter never wins”. But one thing Vince Lombardi never said was, “It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether the public is paying enough for you to get back up…” One day logic will prevail, until that day have a Happy Super Bowl.

More information on NFL Cheerleader salary and petition on Change.org

Adam Weatherall
Adam Weatherall
Adam Weatherall is the political correspondent for PowerFist.Us a company whose mission is to spread truth and justice to all within it's reach, but more specifically to cover news stories that are often times pushed aside by larger media organizations.

 

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