Today is a huge day for college football as various conference-championship games will decide just who gets to play for a national title in January.
My latest column for Time.com is about all the rotten subsidies that the college and professional game squeezes out of taxpayers who don't give a rat's ass about the gridiron. Stadium deals in which even craptacular teams (Vikings!) get sweetheart arrangements are well-known. The extent of direct and indirect subsidies to Division I college teams—even powerhouses—is less well-publicized. Here's a snippet:
With the exception of a tiny handful of programs – Ohio State, University of Texas, LSU, and perhaps three or four more – virtually every athletic program at every public NCAA Division I school is subsidized even as administrators plead poverty when it comes to resources for faculty and, as you know, education. Especially in an age of busted government budgets, even the most rabid sports fan should agree that it's an outrage that the highest-paid public employee in a majority of states is a college football coach (in another 13, it's a basketball coach). It's far better to be broke and have a cellar-dwelling NFL franchise, right?
If you watch football this weekend, recognize that most of the drama and meaning is taking place off the field. The way the college and pro games are built on subsidies and giveaways neatly encapsulates crony capitalism at its worst – and helps to explain why taxes go up even as it seems there's never enough money for basic government functions.
And for god's sake, Buckeyes, beat the Spartans in the Big 10 championship game if only because the latter gets a $3.6 million subsidy from its university.
What say you, Reason readers (and hopefully, Reason supporters—please give to our webathon!): Should government at any level or in any way be subsidizing sports that rake in millions of dollars?