Non-Profit Professional Football

EJ Montini did a great column on AZCentral this morning on the non-profit National Football League.

NFL flagged for roughing the taxpayer

As the (self-appointed) referee of the high-stakes money game leading up to next year’s Super Bowl, which will be held in Glendale’s University of Phoenix Stadium, I would like to bring the captains of the opposing teams to the center of the field and explain the rules.

So, Cap’n Arizona meet Cap’n NFL.

In my hand I have a coin. I will flip this coin and where it lands will determine which team gets to receive the lion’s share of the cash in next year’s game.

It works like this: Heads, the NFL wins. Tails, Arizona loses.

What’s that Cap’n Arizona? You don’t like that rule?

Well, I’m sorry about that, but the rules for this game were established a long time ago. Besides, Arizona residents have shown they will generously support needy non-profit organizations. In this instance the taxpayers of Arizona are only being asked to support another well-known, apparently needy non-profit organization: The National Football League.

No, Cap’n Arizona, I am not making this up.

In the 1960s Congress granted the NFL tax-exempt status. In Section 501(c)(6) of the Internal Revenue Code you will find an exemption for “business leagues, chambers of commerce, real estate boards, boards of trade and professional football leagues…”

What’s that Cap’n Arizona? Is there an exemption for regular citizens?

No. But I have the authority to penalize overly aggressive play, such as one team purposely targeting a defenseless pocketbook. In fact, I see there are lobbyists on the playing field out at the State Capitol right now looking to get millions of Arizona taxpayer dollars to help pay for things like security in Glendale next year.

I’m going to have to blow a whistle and throw a flag on that.

Personal foul.

Roughing the taxpayer.

Pro football is the most popular sport in America. The league rakes in $9 billion or so a year. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is paid roughly $30 million. And while each team pays taxes the league office does not.

Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn, a Republican, would like to strip the NFL of its tax exempt status, along with the other pro leagues who use the status, including the National Hockey League and the Professional Golfers’ Association.

Coburn’s legislation is called the PRO Sports Act. Last week, Coburn and Maine Sen. Angus S. King Jr., an Independent, sent a letter to other senators that reads in part:

“While average Americans are struggling to keep food on the table as the economy continues to waver, these multi-billion dollar businesses are scoring goals and hitting double eagles at the expense of taxpayers… We have no excuse for reducing vital services to the needy or benefits like veterans’ pensions when special handouts like this are still on the books.”

Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that eliminating the nonprofit status for the leagues would increase federal revenue by $109 million over the next 10 years.

What’s that Cap’n Arizona?

Yes, the NFL actually does expect you to spend your money on their biggest money-making event.

What’s that Cap’n NFL?

Yes, the Super Bowl is great publicity for a community and brings in a lot of tourist dollars.

It does seem a bit unfair that the entire cost for hosting an event of statewide benefit shouldn’t fall on a single city. That’s why some state politicians support legislation to help Glendale with the costs of putting on a Super Bowl.

But before that happens I’m going to have to throw another flag.

False start.

Prior to opening up the taxpayers’ wallet team Arizona should ask team NFL to pony up the cash to help Glendale.

And while I’m at it I’m going to toss yet another flag.


It seems clear to me that team NFL has crossed the line with this non-profit baloney.

What’s that Cap’n NFL? You want to throw your challenge flag and have my calls reviewed?

Go right ahead. In fact, all penalties in this game are reviewed by “the booth.” (Which also happens to be me.)

And after studying this from every angle the calls on the field are confirmed.

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  1. I finally agree with Montini on something.

    Glendale is the biggest sucker of a town I have ever seen. In their zeal to become relevant they have obeyed some of the greatest snake oil salesmen ever born.

    Somewhere Elmer Gantry is having a hearty laugh.

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