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 #10 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: An Issues Discussion With Paul Dolan – Dolan is the Cleveland Indians Owner and CEO. He discusses the use of Native American names and logos by sports teams and the decisions to drop the Chief Wahoo logo and the upcoming change to the team name. Other baseball topics include health and safety, possible MLB rule changes and youth participation in the sport.
Follow on Facebook: @SportsForumPodcast
Episode #9 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Issues With Ralph Nader – Nader is a consumer advocate and was named one of the “100 Most Influential Americans of the 20th Century” by Time magazine. He is the founder of League of Fans.
Episode #8 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Save College Sports From Overcommercialization and Professionalization? – The guest is Dr. David Ridpath, a sports business professor and past president of the Drake Group
Episode #7 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Brain Trauma and CTE Risk in Sports With Dr. Ann McKee – Dr. McKee works in the field of neuropathology and has demonstrated that “mild” repetitive head trauma can provoke chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a devastating neurodegenerative disease.
Episode #6 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Need for Quality Physical Education in Our Schools is Greater Than Ever – The guest is Clayton Ellis, one of our nation’s leading advocates for getting our young people to be more physically active.
Episode #5 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Youth Sports with Positive Coaching Alliance Founder Jim Thompson – Thompson started Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) in 1998 to help create a movement to transform the culture of youth sports from “win-at-all-costs” to a positive, character-building experience.
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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