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 #17 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports With Legendary New York Times Sports Columnist Robert Lipsyte – We chat about Lipsyte’s amazing career and some of the athletes he covered and got to know well, like Muhammad Ali, as well as his relationships with fellow sports journalists like Bob Costas and Howard Cosell.
Follow on Facebook: @SportsForumPodcast
Episode #16 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Andrew Maraniss: Outstanding Author of Books That Focus On the Intersection of Sports, History and Social Justice.
Episode #15 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Psychology with Dr. Tim Rice. We discuss the growth of sports psychology at all levels, the positive impact that a number of high profile athletes have had by opening up, and the importance of everyone involved in sports caring for the whole athlete, mind and body.
Episode #14 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Making Sense of the Injury Pandemic in Major League Baseball – Gary McCoy is a strength, conditioning and high performance coach who has worked with several Major League Baseball organizations.
Episode #13 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Conversation With Long-Time MLB Exec Dan Evans About What’s Right With Baseball and What Could Be Better – Evans is a former general manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers and is currently a consultant for Go the Distance Baseball, which owns the Field of Dreams movie site.
Episode #12 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Fun Chat With Dan Gutman, Author of the Baseball Card Adventure Series for Kids
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.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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.
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