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IS THE NFL PART OF THE SWAMP? YOU DECIDE 30 Sep. 2017 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

IS THE NFL PART OF THE SWAMP?  YOU DECIDE

 

30 Sep. 2017

 

Dear Friends and Patriots,

 

            I’ve been getting rather tired of hearing all the media coverage about NFL football players demonstrating during the pre-game ceremonies and rendition of our national anthem.  I had considered it a minor dust-up and distraction from things that actually matter.  I’m not a football fan of any kind, which might explain my attitude for what’s going on.  It’s not that I don’t think the whole thing is a tawdry affair; I do.  But, as far as how much it really matters to the course of history, I know this is largely much ado about nothing.   Or, should be.

            Even so, I do understand the greater context of it all.  I understand that making political statements in such a way as the players, and now even their coaches are doing is far less about the original pretext of the demonstration and now more about power.  There is a power struggle going on, and everyone who is involved should understand that.  The players and those who support them are attempting to force their point of view upon football fans.   In doing so they are trying to impose upon a population who wants football to remain their favorite escape from the demands of their everyday lives.

            Most fans attach emotions to their favorite team and their favorite players.  They wear and decorate their cars in team colors, dress up in NFL approved garb with their favorite players’ numbers, gather in front of big-screen TVs and engage in communal rituals.  They gather at sports bars all across the nation, and in living rooms, and “man caves.”  The most rabid fans will buy exorbitantly-priced season tickets and attend every home game of their favorite team, and they “tailgate” in the stadium parking lots as their own pre-game ritual.    Dedicated fans will attend games upon occasion, at considerable cost.   The average fan who attends a game at an NFL stadium spends over $150 altogether, just for the privilege of “supporting the team” in person.   How many of those fans do you suppose resent being fed a dose of politics along with their football?

            It seems there’s a significant fan backlash against the player demonstrations.  The signs are obvious.  Calls for a boycott are everywhere.  There are some who are organizing bonfires to burn NFL related keepsakes.  The talking heads of the media are all over the place on the issue, and there’s more ignorant comments made per minute on this subject than on just about anything on TV today. 

            Let’s get a couple of things straight, so there are no misunderstandings.  One involves rules.  The other involves the law.

Some believe the NFL has no rule on standing during the presentation of the U.S. flag and playing of the national anthem.  That is absolutely false.  The league does have a very comprehensively stated rule regarding the expectation of players; a rule the player’s union itself support.  Up until recent times, what we usually saw was players lined up and at least appearing to appreciate the intent of the rule.  Some may have been faking it, but not so much that it would draw undue attention.  After all, they’re football players, not Army soldiers or Marines.  

The other thing to understand involves the First Amendment.  Let me deal with that succinctly.  In the private workplace there is no First Amendment right to do or say whatever you like.  Heck, if you want to know the full truth of that, the First Amendment doesn’t apply to people in the public workplace, either.  You can go out in a city park and shout pretty much anything you want and claim it as protected speech, but in almost any workplace there are rules, and those rules generally prevail over First Amendment protections. 

The NFL is a private organization, and all those you see on the field are its employees.  The NFL has a perfect right to enforce its rules.  You may hear debate on this point, but any such debate is founded in ignorance.  The corporation’s right is clear.  The law is clear.  So, why do you think the demonstrations on the field are being allowed?  I think I might know.

I can’t accuse the NFL of engineering the demonstrations.   Last year Colin Kaepernick “took a knee” during the national anthem; according to him it was in protest of police brutality that supposedly affects young black males disproportionately.  I will not deal with that issue here.  If you want to know the truth you need to go to the FBI web site and research crime statistics.  The truth of who is doing what to whom is there, and it’s not what Kaepernick believes.  But, that’s another subject for another day.  This year it appeared the re-emergence of the demonstration was partly due to the media flap over Kaepernick’s inability to secure a job as a quarterback on any NFL team, and possibly it was partly due to another player’s personal desire for publicity.  Regardless, the demonstrations have mushroomed into something that’s nearing an out of control state.  Whole teams are now demonstrating, coaches included, and the NFL seems not to understand what to do about it.

I used the word “seems” because it’s appropriate.  As with many incidents in our land, things are not what they appear.  At first I was of the mind that the NFL, the corporation, was trying to figure out how to negotiate a minefield.  I thought they were concerned the demonstrations might turn into a full-scale revolt if they appeared to use a heavy hand.  But, now I am getting ever more convinced it’s about something else.

I have an old Shipmate from my submarine days in the Navy who is an official with the NFL.  I won’t tell you his name or his position, but I will tell you he’s in the first rank of the corporation’s officers.  I decided to send him an E-mail and see if he was receptive to my concerns that, if left unchecked, the demonstrations would have a larger and more detrimental effect on corporate NFL than they might want to believe.  He responded with an E-mail that stated the obvious – he can’t discuss league policy or deliberations, then thanked me for my concerns.  I responded to him with a slightly more pointed E-mail in which I stated I don’t believe in or participate in boycotts, but am well aware boycotts are being organized, along with some evidence there will be bonfires lit here and there.  The second response I received had a different tone.  He was not specific about anything, but I summarized his comments as, “Do what you think you have to do, and we’ll do what whatever we decide.”  You all know I read between lines.  But, it took me almost a day to understand what I was being told.  Now, I’m going to tell you.

My friends, maybe you don’t think of professional sports in terms of “the swamp” but they are part of it, too.  How many of you know much of what the NFL does is tax-exempt or tax subsidized?  It is.  How many of you know NFL, Inc. still has legal tax-exempt status, though they have voluntarily submitted tax returns the past two years because it allows them to withhold corporate officer salary figures?  How many of you know the NFL lobbies Congress just as any other interest group?  They do.  How many of you wonder why President Trump has been Tweeting negative comments about all that’s going on?  What does that tell you?  When I put all the elements together, then consider what’s happening in Congress, and add my old Shipmate’s last note, I think I can connect all the dots.   As I said, it took me almost a day, but I believe I finally get it.

This is about taxes and tax subsidies.   Does that wake you up?  Remember what I told you – much of what the NFL does is tax-exempt or tax subsidized.  Get it yet?

I watch Ancient Aliens on History Channel.  I like the way every declaration they make on that series is prefaced by a disclaimer, such as “Ancient Alien theorists believe . . .” and “What if it’s true that . . .”  You  can propose just about anything with those prefaces.  So, allow me to copy Ancient Aliens and begin with “What if this is true?”

What if this is true?  What if the NFL and the team owners are so concerned over their tax status and potential liabilities they’re allowing or even promoting the growth of the player demonstration?  What if they have run their numbers and come to the conclusion their potential losses from declining fan revenues is less than the losses that would occur with any changes in their tax levies?  What if this is just fortunate timing for the NFL and their intent is to capitalize off it and use the brouhaha to pressure Congress and the state governmnents to ensure they retain their tax advantages regardless of whatever else is done to the tax code?  What if they believe a year from now all the fans will return and any losses they incur by these radical actions will be made up?  What if this is nothing more than a veiled attempt to sway the swamp creatures to ensure they continue to enjoy their luxurious taxpayer-subsidized existence?

What if this is a bifurcated effort?  What if the players and coaches have no awareness of the corporation’s and owners' attempts to use them to sway legislation?  What if they think this is all about influencing the fans and their thought processes while their bosses are interested in a totally other outcome?

I can’t say for certain, but as I continuously state, I don’t believe in serendipity or coincidence.  When I assemble all the moving parts this is how they line up.

Now, all I have to do is wait until Rush Limbaugh figures it out and announces it to the world.  Wait for it!  I know he’ll get there.

OBTW – as a libertarian, and one schooled in macroeconomics and accounting, I do know corporate taxation is a way to impose a hidden tax on consumers, and that corporations don’t actually pay taxes.  But, that doesn’t mean any corporation just ignores them.  Taxes increase their cost of doing business and inflates the retail cost of all they sell.  I wish we had a corporate rate of zero.  If we did, I suspect you would never see kneeling in the NFL in any game’s opening.

 

MAGA, Baby!

 

In Liberty,

Steve