Are you worried about the cost of a college degree at your public university? You may be able to thank your university's very lurcrative football program.
"The [publicly funded] University of Maryland charges each…undergraduate $400 a year to subsidize the football program, even though the football program brings in television revenue, gate reciepts and so on," says author of The King of Sports: Football's Impact on America, Gregg Easterbrook. "They do it because they can get away with it."
Easterbrook says that there are only a half a dozen big college programs in the whole country that aren't subsidized by their universities and those that are are bring in almost $40 million in profits after expenses.
For more on how everyone is paying for football watch, "How Football Fleeces Taxpayers: Gregg Easterbrook on The King of Sports," orginally published on December 2, 2013 and conducted by Nick Gillespie, produced by Todd Krainin. Original text is below:
Whether you like football or not—whether you've ever bought a ticket to a high school, college, or NFL game—you're paying for it.
That's one of the takeaways from The King of Sports: Football's Impact on America, Gregg Easterbrook's fascinating new book on the cultural, economic, and political impact of America's most popular and lucrative sport.
"The [state-supported] University of Maryland charges each…undergraduate $400 a year to subsidize the football program," says Easterbrook, who notes that only a half-dozen or so college teams are truly self-supporting. Even powerhouse programs such as the University of Florida's pull money from students and taxpayers. "They do it," he says, "because they can get away with it."
At the pro level, billionaire team owners such as Paul Allen of the Seattle Seahawks and Shahid Khan of the Jacksonville Jaguars benefit from publicly financed stadiums for which they pay little or nothing while reaping all revenue. Easterbrook also talks about how the lobbyists managed to get the NFL chartered as a nonprofit by amending tax codes designed for chambers of commerce and trade organizations.
As ESPN.com's Tuesday Morning Quarterback columnist, Easterbrook absolutely loves football but also isn't slow to throw penalty flags at the game he thinks is uniquely America. In fact, he sees the hypocrisy at the center of the business of football as "one of the ways that football synchs [with] American culture….Everyone in football talks rock-ribbed conservatism, self-reliance. Then their economic structure is subsidies and guaranteed benefits. Isn't that America?"
Easterbrook sat down with Reason's Nick Gillespie to discuss The King of Sports, how the business of football burns taxpayers, and whether increased worries about brain injuries and other problems spell eventual doom for the NFL and other levels of play.
Produced by Todd Krainin. Cameras by Meredith Bragg and Krainin.
Runs about 8:45 minutes.
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