Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger
I’m a fan of professional football and I’ve followed it for almost 60 years. Many of those who come to this site, especially our Proprietor, are football fans as well. The game is exciting to watch lending itself perfectly to television viewing, as compared to the other professional sports. However, this is not a post about the sport, the players, its violence or its merits. This is a critical look with the overarching corporate structure of the National Football League. The NFL has become the most lucrative sports business organization in the United States, receiving approximately $8 or $9 Billion a year from TV networks and its revenue from all other sources, including licensing, radio and satellite TV. On average each of the NFL’s 32 teams earns an average of $175 million per year which includes ticket sales. Under the collective bargaining agreement, won after a threatened “player lockout” in 2011, each team has what is known as a “hard salary cap”, which means that the total each team pays to its players is capped at a fixed amount which cannot be exceeded. Currently the cap per each team is about $130 Million per year. Therefore the average NFL team probably makes a profit of at least $30 Million per year after other expenses. Given the state of business, any corporation of medium size that would receive a guaranteed net profit of $30 Million yearly must be considered very fortunate.
The NFL has a rule barring corporations from team ownership:
“Ownership groups must contain twenty-four or fewer individuals, and at least one partner must hold a thirty percent or greater share of the team. The Green Bay Packers are an exemption to the current policy, since they have been a publicly owned stock corporation since before the rule was in place.”
At first glance this may seem a salutary policy, but in operation the League’s ownership consists mainly of billionaires, who are either football fans, publicity seekers and/or both. In fairness I must admit that some of the current owners are descendants of their teams’ founders, such as the Rooney’s in Pittsburgh, the Mara’s in New York and the Halas family owners of Professor Turley’s beloved Bears. Mainly the teams are run by people who made their money in other professions and decided that a football team would make a great hobby. The problem is that the “hobbyists” have and are exhibiting the type of business philosophy that seems to have taken hold in America, which is a ruthless model, in which their employees and even their customers, the fans, are merely pawns to be run over roughshod as they satisfy their egos and their greed. After the break I’ll explain my thinking on this and show why I see the NFL as a metaphor of what’s wrong with our country. Continue reading