By Ken Reed
NFL’s Tax-Exempt Status Threatened
Here’s a good deal if you can find one: The NFL takes in $9.5 billion a year and all of it is exempt from federal taxes. The NFL is the greatest sports-entertainment enterprise ever created but somehow qualifies for non-profit tax-exempt status.
The NFL is legally designated an “industry association,” like chambers of commerce and real estate boards. In a recent survey, only 13% of Americans knew the NFL qualified as a not-for-profit.
Senators Tom Coburn (R-Maine) and Angus King (I-Maine) recently introduced a bill to remove the league’s not-for-profit status.
“This is a directed tax cut to the league office, which means every other American pays a little bit more every year because we give the NFL league office a tax break and call them a non-profit,” says Coburn. “In fact, they’re not.”
Legislators Go After Redskins Name
The NFL is receiving pressure on another front from legislators. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) recently sent a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell calling for a name change for the NFL’s Washington D.C. franchise. Cantwell is chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, while Cole is a senior member of the appropriations committee — and a member of the Chickasaw Nation. In their letter, the lawmakers call the Redskins nickname “racially offensive.”
“The National Football League can no longer ignore this and perpetuate the use of this name as anything but what it is: a racial slur,” the letter stated.
The letter went on to state that Goodell and the NFL are “on the wrong side of history.”
NFL Feels Pressure to Stop Exploiting Volunteers
The NFL is also getting some heat in another area. For years, the NFL and MLB have used volunteers in local cities for their premier events: baseball’s All-Star Game and football’s Super Bowl.
Approximately 9,000 volunteers were used in the New Jersey/New York area for the most recent Super Bowl. That number was way down from what at one time was expected to be 40,000 volunteers.
The reason for the drop is that the NFL decided to hire some temporary paid workers in place of volunteers after MLB was sued for not paying volunteers at their All-Star Game FanFest last year.
According to Alfred Kelly, the chief executive of the New York-New Jersey Super Bowl Host Committee, litigation against Major League Baseball led the host committee to reduce the number of volunteers it sought.
“The fact of the matter is that after the All-Star Game and Major League Baseball being sued, the NFL decided for this Super Bowl to go in a different direction,” he said.
The NFL takes in nearly $10 billion a year but has annually relied on thousands of volunteers vs. paid workers at its marquee event. This year’s volunteers were required to sign a waiver stating that they wouldn’t become part of any potential class-action lawsuit.
— 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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