HART: Two things that should happen to the NFL
The NFL and its contrite Commissioner, Roger Goodell, are in full damage control mode for the way they handled the Ray Rice domestic abuse case.
Roger Goodell will survive this scandal. He admitted errors and will hire PR firms, probably one where a U.S. Senator’s kids (like him) work, and spend some of the NFL’s tax-free money for public service announcements on domestic violence. I presume the league will come out against it.
He has also formed “a committee.” We all know how well those work. Perhaps Oscar Pistorius and Ray Lewis will be appointed as co-chairs. Committees buy time, and time is all you need in this ADD news cycle to get past this scandal.
It was only under pressure from $200 million-a-year sponsor Budweiser that the NFL attempted to do anything morally righteous. It is a sad day when a booze purveyor has to stake out the moral high ground for you.
This is a bit of a comeuppance for Goodell. According to its advertisers, the NFL is difficult to deal with. That’s the nature of a monopoly. Where else can Budweiser take its advertising business to reach the target audience of 18 to 34-year-old men? To the WNBA? Maybe if you are selling power tools, but not beer.
Goodell has dictorially tinkered with some rules. He recently decreed that players can no longer celebrate TDs by dunking the football over the goalposts. That was not smart; if Americans wanted to watch a professional sport with no dunking, we’d watch the WNBA. Goodell also threatened to pull the Super Bowl from Arizona if the state enacted a bill allowing businesses to refuse service to gays. He didn’t follow through with his threat, but it highlighted Arizona and dashed any hopes the state had to host the Tony Awards. The NFL feels strongly homophobic attitudes should be confined to rap songs and its locker rooms.
Goodell also toyed with penalties for uttering the N-word or sexist slurs. Yet he weighed free speech issues and compromised: Players can listen to rap music but are not allowed to sing along.
Pro football is a monopoly sanctioned by Congress to distract the citizens from the members' own doings, much like the “bread and circuses” of ancient Rome. Football diverts attention and placates the masses. (It’s also said to satisfy men’s innate lust for war but, just to make sure, Congress has us in a bunch of other wars.)
No matter what you believe should have happened to Ray Rice, two things need to be done by, or to, the NFL:
Get rid of the NFL's tax-exempt status.
The massively profitable NFL is a "non-profit" monopoly. Both its hugely profitable tax-exempt status and its anti-trust exemption (you can't start the Chattanooga Concussions and compete in the NFL) were bestowed by our esteemed elected officials in D.C. For those, and more, the NFL political action committee and NFL officials donated $1.4 million to members of Congress in the last two elections. The NFL hands out cash to politicians like "The Bachelor" hands out roses — with the same intentions.
How the NFL gained such antitrust status is as nefarious as Louisiana politics itself. Pete Rozelle, the NFL commissioner in the 60’s, was in cahoots with Senator Long from The Graft State of Louisiana. Long got him his antitrust exemption in return for an NFL franchise in New Orleans. It was just like Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu's vote to pass ObamaCare (dubbed “The Louisiana Purchase”) being bought by Obama.
Cut NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's pay from $44 million to one.
If you are running a tax-exempt monopoly, you should not pay yourself $44 million. That’s absurd. Goodell did not start a business, grow it, risk his own capital, provide an innovative new product, employ many new workers, pay taxes and compete in the free market. Entrepreneurs, not a marginally talented monopoly executive, should make that kind of money.
Donate Goodell’s booty, or give it back to some of the cities the league has shaken down for stadium subsidies. Seventy percent of NFL stadiums are paid for by local taxpayers, yet all profits go to the NFL. The NFL is crony capitalism at its best, in bed with Congress and local governments. They sleep around.
At least Budweiser, Procter and Gamble (which I think is a company that administers SAT tests and runs casinos), and Nike, the true free market capitalist, quickly did the right thing. Nike dropped its endorsement deals with Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson, thus freeing them to serve on Goodell’s NFL committee.
Ron Hart, a libertarian syndicated op-ed humorist, award-winning author and TV/radio commentator can be reached at Ron@RonaldHart.com or visit www.RonaldHart.com.