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The October issue of The Atlantic magazine is "must" reading for San Diegans. Title: "How the NFL Fleeces Taxpayers," by Gregg Easterbrook, who is writing a book on the topic.

The article focuses on taxpayer screwings that have been covered by the Reader, such as the Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts, New Orleans Saints, St. Louis Rams, San Francisco 49ers, and, of course, the San Diego Chargers.

Author Easterbrook notes that "the extremely profitable and one of the most subsidized organizations in American history, the NFL also enjoys tax-exempt status." He shows how Congress granted this status disingenuously in 1966. "Apple or Exxon Mobil can only dream of legal permission to function as a monopoly; the 1966 law was effectively a license for NFL owners to print money." The league is considered non-profit even though its billionaire team owners are absolutely rolling in taxpayer-financed profits.

The story is filled with anecdotes that reveal what a scam the NFL is. In 2008, the Internal Revenue Service wanted non-profits to tell what their officers raked in each year. The NFL wanted an exemption. Wailed the league's vice president for public affairs, "I finally get to the point where I'm making 150 grand, and they want my name and address on the [disclosure] form." The IRS turned down the league, and it turned out that the VP was making $2 million a year.

The NFL's commissioner, Roger Goodell, made $30 million in 2011. Not bad for a so-called non-profit that rakes in obscene dough from taxpayers.

For his book, Easterbrook wanted to interview Goodell.. Permission was granted. But when the NFL found out the author wanted to talk about tax exemptions and health issues, the interview was canceled.

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Comments

viewer Sept. 22, 2013 @ 4:43 p.m.

How about funding --- for the neurology of football game patrons, as they be at their games? So to montior their (brainwave) highs-and-lows. And their alcohol into it. Add their radical behavior. The above be for the sake of college/university students who study sociology, phsychiatry, psychology. As NFL Patrons have the highest highs & lowest lows of all sportsfans.

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Don Bauder Sept. 22, 2013 @ 8:57 p.m.

viewer: I have always wondered why fans get so excited about a so-called local team when the players almost invariably come from elsewhere. Best, Don Bauder

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shirleyberan Sept. 22, 2013 @ 5:15 p.m.

viewer - it's true - good observation! When will people understand that football is harmfull in many ways? The many kids ( and adult) head injuries are just beginning to be taken seriously, partly because of Jr. Seau's suicide, not thinking right. The tradition is stupid.

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Don Bauder Sept. 22, 2013 @ 9 p.m.

viewer: Some question whether changes in football gear will make the game much safer. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Sept. 22, 2013 @ 8:58 p.m.

shirleyberan: Teddy Roosevelt almost banned the sport in the early 1900s because of the injuries and deaths of college players. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Sept. 22, 2013 @ 9:01 p.m.

viewer: Some view pro sports teams as a religion, not a sport. Certainly, it's a business and not a sport. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Sept. 23, 2013 @ 9:18 a.m.

viewer: Yes, many consider religion a business, too. Best, Don Bauder

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David Dodd Sept. 22, 2013 @ 9:59 p.m.

Again, if the Federal, State, and Local governments would just legalize gambling, they would more than overcome any losses from the NFL (or any other sports franchise machine) being tax exempt. The NFL, or rather, interest in the NFL is driven by wagering on the games. Simply open casinos near stadiums and let the money flow in. A shiny new stadium could be financed by gambling alone.

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Yankeedoodle Sept. 23, 2013 @ 8:33 a.m.

Who cares what could finance a stadium? That should be the concern of one person or group only: the owner of the team that wants to use that stadium and charge the public for admission. It should be of no more interest to us than how any other business owner plans to finance his or her lease, rental, or ownership of the location of one's business. Astonishing it is, that the owners in the best position to pay their own expenses (viz. billionaires) ask their customers to foot the bill, while other business owners must prove to a private loaning institution the likelihood of their sound business plan enabling them to repay a requested loan. Shameless.

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Don Bauder Sept. 23, 2013 @ 12:19 p.m.

Yankeedoodle: It is indeed shameless. One reason the owners beg for taxpayer funds is that these facilities do not pay off, particularly for football. Better to stick the taxpayer than one's self. Yes, 18 of 32 NFL owners are billionaires, including the Spanos family that wants a subsidized San Diego stadium.

On balance, taxpayers pick up the tab for 78% of the cost of a new stadium, according to a study by Judith Grant Long, then of Harvard. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Sept. 23, 2013 @ 9:22 a.m.

David Dodd: The NFL has a long history of association with the gambling industry and gangsters -- going back to the days when Al Capone helped finance both the Chicago Cardinals (now Arizona Cardinals) and Chicago Bears.

Yes, I do believe that one day there will be gambling booths inside stadiums. However, I do not believe that the gambling proceeds should go exclusively to building stadiums. The public should share in taxes on those receipts for infrastructure and other things that government should be providing. Best, Don Bauder

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ImJustABill Sept. 23, 2013 @ 2:01 p.m.

There are a lot of ways that a new stadium could be financed. The big question is whether any form of public financing for a stadium is justified in terms of net return to the taxpayers. Most "studies" paid for by sports owners and their lobbyists indicate there is justification. In contrast, to my knowledge ALL studies done by academic or think tank researchers - who don't have a heavy financial incentive to get a certain answer - have found that in the vast majority of cases there is no justification.

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Don Bauder Sept. 23, 2013 @ 2:10 p.m.

ImJustABill: True. Almost all objective studies of the economic impact of subsidized pro sports teams show little or no economic impact on the community. Subsidizing a pro sports team is the worst way a government can spend money, claiming it stimulates the economy. It does not. Best, Don Bauder

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shirleyberan Sept. 22, 2013 @ 10:53 p.m.

viewer - I am aware of family violence. Super Bowl Sunday has been said to be the worst day for it because of drunken overly passionate (aggressive) behavior. Some people only care about how much money they make being in that business and won't let it go.

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Don Bauder Sept. 23, 2013 @ 12:21 p.m.

viewer: Turn your radio volume up and maybe you won't hear that cheering from inside homes. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Sept. 23, 2013 @ 9:23 a.m.

shirleyberan: I haven't read that Super Bowl Sunday is a bad day for violence, but I am certainly not surprised. It is a very good day for the alcohol industry. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Sept. 23, 2013 @ 9:27 a.m.

viewer: Back in the 1940s when I was in grade school, a boy was considered a sissy if he didn't play football. After I got to high school, I quit. I did play basketball, but I spent more time on the bench than in the games. Best, Don Bauder

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MURPHYJUNK Sept. 23, 2013 @ 7:57 a.m.

the whole system is set up to sell tickets and advertising, it there is any real sport involved, it got there by accident.

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Don Bauder Sept. 23, 2013 @ 9:28 a.m.

Murphyjunk: Yes, pro sports is a business, but one not simply devoted to selling tickets and advertising. The NFL, in particularly, is wedded to the gambling industry, and always has been. Best, Don Bauder

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CaptainObvious Sept. 23, 2013 @ 8:55 a.m.

Pro Sports are the modern day opiate of the masses. As I have said before, there should be a separation of sport and state, on professional levels.

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Don Bauder Sept. 23, 2013 @ 9:30 a.m.

CaptainObvious: Yes, it is the modern day opiate of the masses, but not just in the U.S. Worldwide, soccer fans are as crazy as U.S. football, baseball, basketball, and hockey fans. Best, Don Bauder

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Visduh Sept. 23, 2013 @ 11:41 a.m.

If the magazine you describe was (or still is) The Atlantic Monthly, it doesn't have wide readership, and a piece such as you describe may go unnoticed. If it were in the Wall Street Journal it would be noticed. The AM was a magazine that I first encountered in high school as a political naif, and for a time in the 70's I was a subscriber. It had great writing most of the time, and took on subjects that nobody else would touch. I ceased to be a subscriber when the magazines arrived late and often looked as though they had been run over by the truck that delivered them. Oh, and it featured a writer named Fallows, as a recall, who wrote a number of articles that excused the many failings of our hapless president, Jimma Cahtuh. I suspect that a magazine out of the northeast that appeals to people in that region just won't gain much traction, no matter how revealing the expose.

That being said, it is long overdue for mainstream writers to start telling the truth about professional sports. One reason for avoiding the topic is probably that a writer will have to endure a certain amount of accusation about his lack of manliness, and even some shunning from those he regards as friends. If a woman writes about it, well, isn't that just like a woman? But it is really swimming against the cultural current to take on the sports/broadcast cabal, especially when it is football that is the biggest target. After all, how many ESPN channels now are pumping out sports old and new around the clock? This will be an uphill battle that may take decades.

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Don Bauder Sept. 23, 2013 @ 12:27 p.m.

Visduh: Metropolitan newspapers make too much money off sports advertising to permit writers much latitude in writing about the pro sports subsidy scam. The Union-Tribune let me do it, although the editor killed a number of my anti-sports scam columns and Herb Klein, editor of Copley Newspapers (former flack for Richard Nixon), was trying to get me fired. Best, Don Bauder

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enzo Sept. 23, 2013 @ 7:20 p.m.

I noticed that when a team has a winning season the voices of the people advocating a new stadium or arena get louder. This includes the fans also. If my memory is correct the year that San Diego voters passed a ballot measure to subsidize the construction of Petco Park was a year that the Padres either made it to the playoffs or the world series. For this reason it would be good if the chargers have a losing season for this year and into the future. But all of this won't matter if a corporate welfare mayor gets elected. And it certainly would not stop John Lynch and Doug Manchester in asking for a new luxury skybox.

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Don Bauder Sept. 23, 2013 @ 9:07 p.m.

enzo: Yes, the Padres went to the World Series in 1998, the year of the vote on the ballpark. The Padres had essentially rented talent to juice up the team for that year. Once they won the vote, they began dumping the expensive players. One of the top executives admitted that the Padres had stacked the team to help rig the election. Best, Don Bauder

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shirleyberan Sept. 23, 2013 @ 7:46 p.m.

OK - got it Don - you see this is not my thing - just want to say this is institutionalized insanity - schools actually have taught us this stuff - whoever made that point - how nuts is that?!! - I'm glad I didn't get voted Cheerleader. Tried to play my part and kick high for the team. Yes I am female and was good at sports. I understand the NFL ladies don't make much$ And the underwear football - Very creative guys.

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Don Bauder Sept. 23, 2013 @ 9:10 p.m.

shirleyberan: In my high school, the varsity football coach (who had been my freshman and sophomore basketball coach) told his players that I was really cut out to be a cheerleader because I wouldn't play football. Best, Don Bauder

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Duhbya Sept. 24, 2013 @ 7:22 a.m.

Just think - had you joined the Mafia, your nickname could have been Donny Pom-pom.

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Don Bauder Sept. 24, 2013 @ 3:12 p.m.

Duhbya: And if I had tried to crack somebody's kneecaps with a pompon I would have been laughed out of the Mafia -- or maybe assassinated. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Sept. 24, 2013 @ 4:11 p.m.

Duhbya: Yes, I remember that article. Basically, after the rich kidnapped the concept of redevelopment, and money was being used to subsidize professional sports structures, hotels, etc., the money was coming out of the schools. That's why Gov. Brown moved to eliminate redevelopment. The worry is that some in the legislature will reinstate redevelopment under another name. Best, Don Bauder

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shirleyberan Sept. 24, 2013 @ 10:58 a.m.

Don - found the article, gonna take a while to read. I googled - law that gives tax money to football - you're so smart!

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Don Bauder Sept. 24, 2013 @ 4:15 p.m.

shirleyberan: The Atlantic article may take awhile to read, but it is quite informative. People must understand: taxpayer subsidies for pro sports team owners (most in the NFL are billionaires) is a scam....simply a scam, and the mainstream media promote and prolong that scam because they make so much money from sports advertising.

The tax exempt status of pro leagues is also a scam. Best, Don Bauder

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