Sack the NFL’s nonprofit tax-exempt status

Last Thursday, on the eve of the Super Bowl XLVIII, I was extremely proud to be joined by Republican U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-Okla.) and other fellow football fans and taxpayers (including acclaimed author Gregg Easterbrook and Sports Fan Coalition Chairman David Goodfriend) to announce the formation of SackNFLTaxBreaks.org.

SackNFLTaxBreaks.org is a new national grassroots advocacy campaign to sack the NFL’s anti-fan behavior, its nonprofit tax-exempt status, as well as the overall government subsidization of the league.

SackNFLTaxBreaks.org seeks to educate the public about the NFL’s nonprofit tax-exempt status as well as empower fellow football fans, taxpayers, and allied groups to hold lawmakers accountable and pressure the league to end its nonprofit status, pay its fair share, and play by the same rules as everyone else.

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The campaign is co-founded by New Orleans Saints fan Lynda Woolard, whose Change.org petition calling on Congress to “Revoke the Tax-Exempt Status of the National Football League” has more than 340,000 signatures and counting.

As the co-founder of SackNFLTaxBreaks.org, I’m a diehard football fan as well and a proud shareholder of the Green Bay Packers, the NFL’s only publicly owned team.

However, as a taxpayer, I’m certainly not a fan of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the league continuing to game the system—at the expense of hardworking ordinary Americans—by calling itself a tax-exempt “nonprofit.”

I mean we’re not talking about a “nonprofit” charitable foundation here like the United Way or American Red Cross or even a trade association like your local Chamber of Commerce. We’re talking about the NFL.

After all, what other “nonprofit” could afford to pay a Commissioner like a Roger Goodell a whopping $29.5 MILLION dollars-a-year—15 times more by the way than the “nonprofit” tax-exempt league gives to charity?

How about a league that generates $10 billion annually in profits at the same time it receives one billion annually in government assistance. Not to shabby by the way for a “nonprofit.”

A league that threatens football fans and taxpayers to shell out billions in tax dollars to publicly finance stadiums or risk losing their teams.

A league that subjects fans to blackout rules keeping taxpayers from seeing games in those very stadiums we fund.

A league that completely shuts the public out of the billions in revenue made from TV images in publicly funded stadiums broadcast over public airwaves.

You might ask yourself: how in the world can the most profitable sports league on the planet and one of the most subsidized organizations in American history continue to get away with sticking it to taxpayers and fans?

The answer is the United States Congress!

In the 1960s, the U.S. Congress granted the NFL non-profit tax-exempt status and antitrust exemptions as a result of bills having nothing otherwise to do with football.

In the four decades plus since—these moves have come at a high cost and a giant price tag. And to this very day, Congress continues to sweep all of this under the rug and largely look the other way.

I mean one would think at a time when we have a $640 billion deficit it would be a no-brainer for members of Congress in Washington to back the Pro-Sports Act authored by Sen. Coburn that would end the NFL’s nonprofit tax-exempt status. But, that just hasn’t been the case…yet.

To those members of Congress concerned that ending the NFL’s nonprofit tax-exempt status might somehow result in being labeled “anti-football” and your approval rating somehow sinking further—in case that were actually possible—let me reassure you…

We football fans would not be any less passionate about the game we love if the league actually paid its fair share. Additionally, believe it or not, we are actually smart enough to recognize the fact that the NFL is rolling in the dough and doesn’t need ordinary Americans to pay its taxes.

What I can also tell you is this – the NFL’s nonprofit status and refusal to pay its fair share has ignited a national grassroots campaign of hundreds of thousands of angry sports fans and taxpayers in states and congressional districts across the country.

If ever there were an issue and a grassroots movement that could truly bring together a powerful coalition of outraged football fans and taxpayers from all walks of life as well as sports allegiances, political parties, genders, races, ethnicities, socio-economic status —this is it.

It’s time for Congress to do the right thing: pass the Pro-Sports Act and finally end the NFL’s nonprofit tax-exempt status. Remember, as fans we know how to and will be keeping score!

Rudominer is the co-founder of SackNFLTaxBreaks.org. He is the principal and founder of R2 Strategic Consulting.