October 11, 2017
After President Trump's criticism of NFL players who refused to stand for the national anthem, it seemed that the NFL and many owners were supporting players who refused to stand. Now, the NFL is doing an about face. Commissioner Roger Goodell sent a letter yesterday to the 32 league owners regarding the protests. The letter stated that although the NFL rule book does not mention the national anthem, it is in the game operation manual. Therefore, while Goodell assured owners that they would continue to work with the players and "dialogue" with those who refuse to stand for our nation's anthem, he added: "Like many of our fans, we believe that everyone should stand for the National Anthem."
Many have raised the question of why the NFL, which has become increasingly politically correct, is getting various tax breaks. In fact, several bills in Congress seek to reverse these tax benefits, which federal law grants to sports associations and sports leagues along with other types of entities like real estate boards, boards of trades, and chambers of commerce.
Months before this latest controversy, former Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) introduced the PRO Sports Act (H.R. 296), which would prevent professional sports leagues from achieving a tax-exempt status. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) has since stated that he plans to oversee the bill's progress in the House.
In the Senate, Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and James Lankford (R-Okla.) introduced their bipartisan bill, the Eliminating Federal Tax Subsidies for Stadiums Act of 2017 (S 1342), this past June. The bill would prevent tax-exempt bonds from being used to finance construction of professional sports arenas, including many NFL stadiums, which some argue ends up placing the cost on the taxpayer.
Why should a multi-billion-dollar league such as the NFL continue to get such a sweet deal on the dime of the American taxpayer while it makes billions in profits and often obtains tax free bonds from local and states to build their stadiums? Congress is right to review the tax benefits of groups like the NFL while doing tax reform this fall, especially when the NFL is effectively a monopoly that has been more interested in thumbing their nose at our nation's anthem instead of focusing on football.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.