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Yesterday’s post asked whether NFL would come to mean No Fans Left.

I will not rehash the contents except for two items.

First, it is illegal not to stand with hand on heart for the national anthem. That makes President Donald Trump wrong when he says it is permissible to stand with arms locked with the guys next to you.

Here is a citation of the American statute stipulating conduct during the national anthem. It is 36 US Code 301 (emphases mine):

(a)Designation.—
The composition consisting of the words and music known as the Star-Spangled Banner is the national anthem.

(b)Conduct During Playing.—During a rendition of the national anthem—
(1) when the flag is displayed—
(A) individuals in uniform should give the military salute at the first note of the anthem and maintain that position until the last note;
(B) members of the Armed Forces and veterans who are present but not in uniform may render the military salute in the manner provided for individuals in uniform; and
(C) all other persons present should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart, and men not in uniform, if applicable, should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart; and
(2) when the flag is not displayed, all present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed.
(Pub. L. 105–225, Aug. 12, 1998, 112 Stat. 1263; Pub. L. 110–417, [div. A], title V, § 595, Oct. 14, 2008, 122 Stat. 4475.)

So there. Case closed. Let the police arrest all the miscreants on the field. That would be much more interesting than their stupid ball game.

Secondly, what follows is the full story of why Americans have such profound respect for the national anthem. I encourage everyone to watch it and share it with younger family members. This isn’t taught in school and, even when it is, isn’t done in such a fulsome way. Some of the history was news to me:

And the fourth verse, rarely sung, really points out the importance of the American flag standing after a night of attacks from the British on Fort McHenry (see the 30-second mark):

Nobody understands the protest

Over the past 48 hours, I have read numerous comments online asking for an explanation of the protests since 2016. Slavery? Inequality? Trump?

Hey, players, give it a rest. You’re only alienating your fans. The general public does not understand what is going on:

A Colorado car dealer, Phil Long, who senses what way the wind is blowing, has suspended the Denver Broncos’ Von Miller from its adverts:

Phil Long Dealerships:
We are evaluating the events of the weekend. It is important to state that we haven’t fired Von. We are in the middle of contract renewal and this weekend’s events remind us that sometimes we feel that we best represent ourselves. We support Von and his first amendment rights, we know Von and he’s a good person. He donated a police car to his hometown police dept. All that notwithstanding when we bring in celebrities to represent us we run the risk of being misrepresented

Latest news

In yesterday’s post, I singled out the Dallas Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Kneelers’ Alejandro Villanueva for doing the right thing.

I was wrong.

Dallas Cowboys

In the Cowboys’ latest game on Monday, September 25, 2017, they tried to please everyone by kneeling before the national anthem was played, then standing with locked arms for the anthem itself. Terrible — and, as mentioned above — illegal.

Apparently, this was to show solidarity with all the other teams in the latest kneeling and arm-locking protest: disapproval of Trump’s criticism of their disrespect of the national anthem.

As someone said at The_Donald:

This is incredibly cringey.

Someone else wrote:

Life long Cowboys fan here. I was sick to my stomach and turned it off. I am completely done. I can’t believe it. I really thought they were going to pull through. No more NFL for me. I’m in shock.

Everybody had hopes the Cowboys would not fall for this. Only a few days ago, owner Jerry Jones supported standing for the national anthem and:

urged the team’s Leadership Council to stay true to that long-standing practice.

Tom Landry must be rolling in his grave.

Pittsburgh Kneelers

On Sunday, the only Pittsburgh Steeler to go out and salute the flag was Bronze Medal recipient Alejandro Villanueva. I wisely did not show his picture which was all over the Twittersphere.

On Monday, the retired US Army Ranger apologised for doing the right thing, saying he made a mistake and is ’embarrassed’ every time he sees that photo of him showing up, standing and saluting for the national anthem. The rest of his team were in the locker room.

I’m embarrassed for him. Why could he not stand up to his coach, his team-mates and the NFL?

It’s not as if these guys are being paid peanuts and he needs the job.

The public looks on in confusion

Most NFL ticket holders have to fit the cost of admission, team regalia, car parking, refreshment and so on into their annual family budgets.

Most NFL ticket holders are on average incomes.

On the other hand, the players they are going to see are very wealthy men:

Also think of the hundreds of millions of additional dollars in sponsorship contracts.

Oppressed? My foot!

NFL receives taxpayers’ money

The NFL is a non-profit organisation that relies heavily on taxpayer subsidy.

Mic.com has an excellent article (thanks, Sundance) that explains how this happened:

the legislation wasn’t a big deal 47 years ago. In fact, the NFL had already been classified as a non-profit organization as early as 1942. It’s just that that status only became codified in 1966.

These days:

Litigator Andrew Delaney has alleged that the NFL uses its non-profit status to launder money. As a trade association that promotes the interests of its 32 for-profit franchises, the NFL sells lucrative licenses for such things as apparel and television contracts through for-profit business such as NFL Enterprises, LLC. The individually-owned franchises receive compensation and, in turn, make annual “dues and assessments” to the NFL, all of which is tax-deductible. The money just goes around in a circle.

Such practices have led Delaney to call the NFL a “glorified tax shelter.” Gregg Easterbrook argues in The Atlantic that the decision to add professional football leagues under Section 501(c)(6) “has saved the NFL uncounted millions in tax obligations, which means that ordinary people must pay higher taxes, public spending must decline, or the national debt must increase to make up for the shortfall.”

Television contracts are also lucrative. Stadia are involuntarily publicly funded:

More important to the NFL business strategy, however, is the big-time television contracts. At the time Public Law 89-800 granted the NFL a monopoly on its broadcasting rights, cable television did not begin to approach the immense revenue it generates today. ESPN and the NFL Network did not exist; it was regional channels that were important. Thus, in 1966 the NFL received antitrust-exempt media rights with little to no opposition. Now those rights are worth billions of dollars annually.

What makes these contracts so profitable, however, is the relatively low overhead costs. Thanks to John Q. Taxpayer, team owners receive the lion’s share of those contracts while only making a minimal contribution, if any, to the stadium the game is being played in.

Thus, the dirty secret behind why professional football is so profitable is because most stadiums are publicly funded. Teams pay a modest rent to perform in their stadiums, but they retain the exclusive right to air those games on televisions. Those rights are then pooled among the 32 teams and sold to the highest bidder.

That I did not know, nor this:

As the ink dries on the NFL’s highly-lucrative broadcasting contracts, states facing major budget cuts continue to throw taxpayer money at NFL teams. Annually, “NFL stadium subsidies and tax favors add up to perhaps $1 billion.” In addition to these taxpayer contributions, “many cities, counties, and states also pay the stadiums’ ongoing costs, by providing power, sewer services, other infrastructure, and stadium improvements.” Essentially, franchise owners are having their product bankrolled by the public.

The article offers these solutions:

In order for there to be a meaningful change, two changes need to be made. First, Section 501(c)(6) is amended to no longer include the “professional football leagues” language. Until the NFL is more transparent with its finances, it does not deserve its tax-exempt benefits from being a non-profit organization.

Second, Congress must enact legislation prohibiting the privatization of television images performed in publicly funded stadiums. Only with the threat of losing their television contracts worth several billion dollars will the NFL be inclined to privately finance their own stadiums. Such a drastic measure would prevent the public from being gouged for the construction and maintenance of stadiums that serve as the playground for the uber rich.

Fortunately, a Republican in Louisiana is stepping up and speaking out:

Here is an excerpt from The Advocate‘s article:

Louisiana State Rep. Kenny Havard, R-St. Francisville, said Monday morning that he wants to cut millions in state tax dollars, exemptions and credits allocated to the New Orleans Saints, the NFL and any of those groups’ associated facilities that receive funding …

Havard’s statement didn’t specify the amount of state money that he proposed be diverted from the Saints the NFL. According to a 2015 Forbes story, Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson was “set to rake in an estimated $392 million from state subsidies through 2025.

The report said during the Mercedes-Benz Superdome lease “the state will pay Benson at least $198 million in increased revenue from the Superdome, $142 million in rental payments on property Benson owns, $10 million in bonuses for bringing the Super Bowl to New Orleans and $2.6 million in tax breaks. Benson will get another $40 million from private rent payments to a tower he bought as part of the deal.”

Havard rightly says:

It is time the taxpayers quit subsidizing protest on big boy playgrounds. I believe in the right to protest but, not at a taxpayer subsidized sporting event. Do it on your own time. There are plenty of disabled children, elderly and veterans in this state that would appreciate the money.

Why Trump is so incensed

I think President Trump is angry because the NFL receives taxpayer money to promote the military.

Townhall has a good article on the taxpayer-funded military-NFL programme that started under Obama. I had no idea this was going on:

In 2009, Barack Obama’s Department of Defense began paying hundreds of thousands towards teams in a marketing strategy designed to show support for the troops and increase recruitments. The NFL then required all players and personnel to be on the sidelines during the national anthem, in exchange for taxpayers[‘] dollars. Prior, the national anthem was played in the stadium but players had the option of staying in the locker room before heading out to the field. 

Furthermore, teams that showed “Veteran’s Salutes” during games were paid upwards of $5.1 million dollars

Stop the racket!

You know President Trump is ready for kick-off.

No wonder the NFL’s up in arms. They’re afraid he’s going to stop that gravy train. I hope he does.

I have many, many more links on the NFL and hope to write about them if I have time.

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