By Ken Reed
It’s interesting to note that in a capitalist society, in which team owners tout the free market whenever they can, it’s a corporate welfare system — most notably taxpayer-financed sports stadiums and arenas — that is serving to increase the wealth of pro sports owners in America.
“Ironically, it [taxpayer financing of sports venues] is a reverse type of socialism that redistributes wealth upward,” says sports sociologist D. Stanley Eitzen. “Yet owners, civic boosters, editorial writers, and politicians who spend much of their time defending capitalism and the free market support it unabashedly and uncritically.”
Sports economist Robert A. Baade calls it the Reverse Robin Hood Effect, “taking from the poor, the near poor, the working class, and the middle classes and giving to the rich.”
Dave Zirin, a sports journalist and activist, put it very succinctly — and accurately. “In the United States, we socialize the debt of sports and privatize the profits.”
I’ve never seen anybody lay out the case against sports welfare better than Patrick Hruby recently did in a piece posted on the excellent new website Sports On Earth. In his well-researched article, “Let’s Eliminate Sports Welfare,” Hruby methodically goes through recent stadium deals in which taxpayers are soaked in order to bolster private franchise owners’ wallets.
Eliminating sports welfare can be — and should be — a bipartisan issue.
“By ending Sports Welfare, Democrats could make plutocratic team owners and other wealthy sports interests pay a fairer share, while Republicans could cut government expenditures, simplify the tax code and increase revenues without explicitly raising taxes,” writes Hruby in his Sports on Earth article. “An obvious win-win, except for the fact that … our duly elected officials don’t seem to care.”
It’s time they start.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #28 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Chat With Mano Watsa, a Leading Basketball and Life Educator – Watsa is President of PGC Basketball, the largest education basketball camp in the world, with over 150 camps in 30+ U.S. states and Canada. We discuss problems in youth sports today, including single sport specialization, the growing gap between the “haves” and “have-nots,” the high drop-out rate in competitive sports, and the growing mental health challenges young athletes are dealing with today.
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More Episodes on Apple Podcasts; Spotify; Google Podcasts; PocketCasts; & Anchor
Episode #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families.
Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.”
Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Episode #24 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Mental Health and Athletes: Ending the Stigma – Nathan Braaten and Taylor Ricci are the founders of Dam Worth It, a non-profit created to end the stigma around mental health at colleges and universities through sport, storytelling, and community creation.
Episode #23 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Olympian Benita Fitzgerald Mosley Talks Title IX, Youth Sports and the Olympics.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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