• Sumo

By Ken Reed

America seemingly can’t get enough of Deflategate. Did New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady orchestrate a scheme to lower the pressure in NFL game balls to a level slightly below league specifications? Did Brady and the Patriots design a coverup? Does the NFL have it out for the Patriots and their bully head guru Bill Belichick?

Yawn, yawn, yawn.

Despite its relative lack of importance in the big picture, NFL executives are all over this issue. It’s Priority One. Also, the media and its crack investigative reporters are eating this “story” up. Our best and brightest journalists are on the case big time.

Meanwhile, NFL owners and bigwigs don’t even blink an eye about current franchise blackmail issues and their impact on fans and their tax-paying neighbors. The league allows the owners of the St. Louis Rams, San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders to shop around for new cities that will build them taxpayer-funded stadiums. These shopping trips could also result in the teams’ current cities (read: taxpayers) ponying up millions of dollars for renovations to existing stadiums or the building of new ones.

Unfortunately, the media spends about 1/1000th of the time spent on Deflategate covering this pro sports rip-off of American taxpayers.

Columnist Jason Notte has done a nice job looking at the NFL stadiums across the United States and deciphering how much public money was used to build them.

“That’s the burden we’re all bearing equally: The welfare of a supposedly “private,” “free-market” league that needs its hand held by Uncle Sam just to conduct simple business,” wrote Notte.

“The average of nearly $250 million per stadium in public funding that state and local taxpayers have allocated to building 21 NFL stadiums since 1997 — not counting multi-hundred-million-dollar renovations to facilities including the Georgia Dome in Atlanta and Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo? That’s just garnish.

“Seattle is on the hook for the $300 million it paid for $460 million CenturyLink Stadium until the last bonds are settled in 2021. However, that city is still paying for the costs of its long-dead Kingdome through 2016.”

The whole Deflategate debacle is but one more example of the sports media dropping the ball on social, cultural, and economic issues in sports while chasing the trivial.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans

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