Like some 100 million other folks, I watched the Patriots snatch defeat from the jaws of victory last night, literally dropping the ball on what could have been their fourth Super Bowl Championship. To paraphrase Jerry Seinfeld (who in turn was paraphrasing himself) in one of the more memorable of last night’s wallet-busting, tax-deductible, cinema-esque commercial advertisements, “Eli!”
Losing in the championship game may mean you’re nothing more than “the first place loser,” as NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt once noted. But in today’s highly regulated National Football League (NFL), all 32 teams, from the Super Bowl-losing New England Patriots, to the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars, are winners, too. Thanks to the socialist structures the NFL is built upon.
“Football is built on an economic model of fairness and opportunity,” observes the admittedly snarky but nonetheless astute Bill Maher. “The NFL literally shares the wealth. TV is their biggest source of revenue, and they put it all of it in a big commie pot, and split it 32 ways. Because they don’t want anyone to fall too far behind.”
The NFL takes billions of dollars in revenue and redistributes that sum evenly among its teams. Yesterday’s Super Bowl featured 30-second commercials worth 3.5 million dollars. The league’s renewed contracts with NBC, CBS, and Fox will bring in $3 billion per year in TV deals alone. And that lofty sum doesn't even count for ticket sales, purchases of team gear, or other streams of revenue.
On the field, a late fourth quarter Brady to Welker drop may look far different than a perfectly placed Manning to Manningham 38-yard sideline bomb. But to the league’s prodigious coffers, a jump in sales for Eli Manning jerseys looks exactly the same to the St. Louis Rams as it does to the New York Giants. It looks like money. It looks like opportunity.
This economic model of fair competition is the result of some very intentional choices that the league made decades ago. And the NFL has been taking it to the bank ever since.
“Back in 1961 Commissioner Pete Rozelle convinced Congress to grant anti-trust immunity to the NFL to allow it to negotiate with broadcast companies as a single entity,” David Morris writes for On The Commons. “Its first contract with CBS proved so lucrative that each team had $332,000 in the bank at the beginning of the season, a sum that exceeded most team payrolls at the time.”
Today the NFL has the strictest salary cap of any of the four major sports. And the most aggressive system of revenue redistribution as well, a policy that was also enacted in 1961, and which has benefited the entire league together, truly leaving no team (or team owner, 18 of 32 of whom are billionaires) behind.
Because of the socialist policies of the NFL, “Football,” as Bill Maher notes, “[is] a sport that succeeds economically because it does just that.”
So feel free to wear your second-hand-store, faded commie red Che Guevera t-shirt while watching this year’s NFL Combine later this month. The league will understand.
And nothing tempers the dissappointment of defeat like the thrill of a new season. One in which your team truly does have a good chance of making the playoffs, if not winning the championship, in the socialist NFL.