Can Eliminating Sports Welfare Help With the Fiscal Cliff?


Get my money off that fucking car

Probably not a whole bunch, but that doesn't mean it isn't the right thing to do, and yesterday. Patrick Hubry rants about the sporting world's welfare queens over at Sports on Earth:

They're the team owners sitting in luxury boxes built with taxpayer dollars, charging PSL fees for seats constructed with the same. They're the athletes writing off fines for bad behavior. They're the multimillion-dollar professional leagues, Ozymandias-shaming college athletic departments and—ahem—charitable bowl games all enjoying lucrative and dubious non-profit status.  Their ranks include Tiger Woods, whose namesake foundation once received a $100,000 federal grant; the Baseball Hall of Fame, which pocketed $1.57 million in federal funds between 2002 and 2006; and the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame, which seven years ago was given $75,000 as part of a larger appropriations bill funding the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development. (Additional point of incredulous outrage: the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame doesn't even include Jim Brown.) They are the underserving beneficiaries of inappropriate, unnecessary public subsidy, feathering their overstuffed nests of downy-soft private profit, adding to America's astronomical charge card bill all the while. They are the Welfare Kings (hi again, Jeffrey Loria!) and Queens (rest in peace, Georgia Frontiere!) of sports, crying poor while grifting and lifting society's collective wallet, perpetually grabbing for more, more, more. […]

Because HUD knows logos

According to Harvard professor Judith Grant Long and economist Andrew Zimbalist, the average public contribution to the total capital and operating cost per sports stadium from 2000 to 2006 was between $249 and $280 million. A fantastic interactive map at Deadspin estimates that the total cost to the public of the 78 pro stadiums built or renovated between 1991 and 2004 was nearly $16 billion. That's enough to build three Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carriers. Or fund, in today's dollars, 15 Saturn V moon rocket launches—three more than the number of launches in the entire Apollo/Skylab program. It's also more than what Chrysler received in the Great Recession-triggered auto industry bailout ($10.5 billion), and bigger than the 2010 GDP of 84 different nations. How does this happen? 

An excellent question. Many more horrifying examples (including: did you know that the National Guard pays more than $20 million a year to sponsor a NASCAR team, or that the National Football League is classified as a non-profit in order to avoid taxes?) at the link, which I found through Will Leitch's Twitter feed.

Reason on sports welfare here.

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  1. But then people might make money by building sports arenas only where there’s an actual market for them.

    And of course if the government doesn’t do it, it won’t ever get done ever!

  2. Ask not what spending needs to be cut; ask what spending doesn’t need to be cut.

    1. Seriously. Every single dollar of taxpayer money spent by every level of government should have to be practically and morally justified. Anyone who thinks that this despicable misuse of public funds is morally justified doesn’t deserve to call themselves an American.

  3. If the National Guard can’t sponsor Dale Juniors, car, the terrerists win!

    By which, I mean Jimmie Johnson.

  4. While I agree with the general thrust of the argument I do think complaining about the National Guard’s sponsorship of a NASCAR team to be off target.

    Clearly in this case it is a legitimate advertising expense and not some form of grant or handout to NASCAR. Now one can argue with the legitimacy of the National Guard advertising (I would disagree, with an all volunteer force some minimal level of advertising is a necessary part of recruiting) and maybe even quibble whether this is the most cost effective use of that advertising budget (I have absolutely no clue on that one) but calling it welfare means that the 3M corporation is a corporate welfare queen because various government agencies happen to use Post-It-Notes (and 3M probably is a corporate welfare queen, but it would not be due to government agencies using their products)

    1. I agree.

      The National Guard is buying adverstining – not subsidizing the construction of racetracks.

      I am not aware of any NASCAR racetracks being built with the same sort of government involvement as has been the case with some football stadiums.

      1. I am fascinated how NASCAR makes money, considering how boring it is.

        1. I once went to a NASCAR race. I got loaded in the sun and then danced around shirtless and yelled dumb shit. I can see the appeal.

        2. Yeah if I was gonna waste time watching Auto Racing it would at least be something mildly interesting like IMSA or F1 where all the races are on road courses, not simple ovals

    2. According to the National Guard: In 2009, 53,740 qualified leads were generated because of the NASCAR program, which included an online drive around Earnhardt. The Guard stated that 43,934 fans signed up to the online program with 38,846 considered qualified leads. Of those, 343 joined the Guard.

      That’s 343 recruits for $20 million worth of advertising. Do you think it’s worth it?

      1. If the numbers are really that bad I’d say categorically not, this still does not make it “sports welfare” it just makes it an inefficient allocation of resources, something I should add could not be known until after the sponsorship had been in place for a few years.

        1. this still does not make it “sports welfare” it just makes it an inefficient allocation of resources, something I should add could not be known until after the sponsorship had been in place for a few years.

          Agreed. I do not consider it welfare in any sense. Just poor marketing.

      2. Oh one other thing. The real number to look at for the value of the program is the number of qualified leads generated, not the number of recruits. The rate at which recruiters convert those leads into recruits is a seperate issue.

        Still $400 per lead seems rather a poor ROI, that number should be closer to $4 per lead to be an effective use of marketing dollars.

  5. I’ve always thought there should be some sort of non-profit established to fight sports welfare across the country. Fans Against Sports Taxes, or some such. I think it might take off. And if every city’s fan base resisted, in one coordinated effort, then the owners would have a lot less blackmail power.

  6. It is one thing to just hand over money as grants and subsidies but aren’t the NASCAR sponsorships recruiting advertising?



    1. yep. they’re just the damn browns. Go Stillers.


        1. Here We Go Stillers, Here We Go

    2. Come on Warty, we lost last week (as did Cinci and Pitt). You should be happy Cleveland was the only North team to register a win last week.

      1. I am very happy. FUCK ART MODELL.

        1. It must be awesome to be the only organization where Bill Belicheat was a FAIL.

  8. By all means, get bogged down in a bunch of nitpicking about the “value” of military recruitment programs which allow military bigwigs to rub shoulders with professional sports personalities. If the Pentagon is prohibited from keeping NASCAR teams afloat, the terrorists will walk all over us.

    And why the fuck would Syracuse even have a sports hall of fame if not to provide a showcase for Jim Brown?

  9. If people talk about cutting foreign aid or public broadcasting, Xeno Welch complains that cuting those can’t ever cut enough, because it’s too small, so it’s not worth bothering about. This is even smaller.

  10. Not that this diminishes the point, but the “Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame” honors athletes and coaches from the immediate vicinity, not former Orangemen who originally came from elsewhere. In other words, it’s townie, not U.

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