I love watching NFL football games. My favorite team is the Washington Redskins and this year, they actually gave us fans something to cheer about. I detest the Ravens -well, not so much the team, but more so the fans... the stupid ones (which there seems to be a high percentage of) - I call them "Baltimorons". So, you can imagine my agony this year after the Ravens won the Super Bowl. I watched all the fans going nuts in the streets as if they had all just won the lottery. Hell, it would've been a similar scene in D.C. if the Redskins had won the Super Bowl. Every city has a big party for their NFL team if they win.
But it all got me to thinking what suckers all us fans really are. I mean, what do WE, the fans, actually gain from our NFL team winning the Super Bowl? Bragging rights. Nothing more (unless you placed a little side bet on the Super Bowl). Meanwhile, all the players on the winning team get a nice ring and an extra $88,000 in their pocket - now that's in addition to their regular salary, performance bonuses, and any side endorsement deals. Sure, Baltimore as a city will benefit financially from having a Super Bowl champion team, but I'm talking about the average fan. I know guys who make a lot less money than I do, but yet they have season tickets or manage to get to several games each year to root on their team. They have multiple "official team jerseys" and all kinds of officially NFL-license gear to show their support for their team. And all for what? I think it's cool to root on your home team, but it kinda pisses me off when I stop and think about how much frickin' money the NFL and all the teams are pulling in -all of which is support by us, the stupid fans who buy tickets and merchandise to make hundreds of millionaires in the NFL even richer. And what do we get out of the deal? Bragging rights. Wow. We're pretty stupid.
Let's throw out some numbers:
The average NFL player's Salary is currently around $1.9 Million. That's average. Some make less - (bare minimum salary is $225,000/yr.)- and many make more. MUCH more. Take for instance:
Adrian Peterson (RB Vikings) ― $11,150,000/yr.
Matt Ryan (QB Falcons)― $12,990,000/yr.
Larry Fitzgerald (WR Cardinals) ― $13,250,000/yr.
Trent Williams (OT Redskins) ― $14,000,000/yr.
Peyton Manning (QB Broncos) ― $18,000,000/yr.
Dwight Freeney ― (DE Colts) $19,035,000/yr.
Wow. Now throw in the money from endorsement deals for some of the standout players. For instance, Peyton Manning made $15 Million last year just in endorsement deals... so that's $33 Million he made last year. Not bad. For playing a game.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell didn't have to PLAY the game - he just served as top dog. How much did he earn? Well, he nearly tripled his compensation in 2011, earning just under $30 million.
For the 2011/12 season, the Redskins had a annual salary budget of $104,305,244 with which to pay all the coaches (Mike Shanahan makes $7Million/yr., by the way), support staff, and players.
Let that sink in. The team's budget was over ONE HUNDRED AND FOUR MILLION DOLLARS!!!
Now let this sink in: As a whole, revenue in the NFL reached an estimated $9.5 billion in 2011-12. That is up $500 million (5.6%) from the year before. That's BILLION -with a "B".
Where does all this money come from?! The STUPID FANS.
On average, a fan will pay $78 for a ticket to a game and another $27 to park the damn car. If you're lucky, you can get a fountain soda and a hotdog for around $10 or, if you want a beer, you can cough up at least $7 for 16-oz. draft. Bottom line, the average cost for a family of four to attend a game is around $450. That's why you don't see me and my family at any games - because I have way better things to spend $450 on -especially when I can watch the game at home in the comfort of my own living room. Last year, I got a pair of pre-season tickets for $50 each and free parking pass and I still came away feeling as if I got screwed on the deal. By the time I bought a pizza, a soda, and a beer, I was out almost $30. That is insane!
Let's do some quick, simplified math. Let's just say, for the sake of argument, that every fan pays an average of $100 to attend a game at FedEx Field, home of the Redskins. Let's say they pack the place (79,000 people is the capacity)... That comes out to $7,900,000 in just ticket revenue. Now let's say everone spends only $10 on food and drink... $790,000. So that's a total of $8,690,000 revenue for ONE GAME. OK, so that example was overly simplied, but I'll bet it is coming in on the conservative side of what is actually raked in at each home Redskins game. We're stupid. And the NFL is laughing their collective asses off at us while they skip happily to the bank.
But wait! It gets better!
You may not know it, but the National Football League is a NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION. I'm sure it seems a little crazy that a collection of teams that generated at least $9 billion in revenue last season would be given tax-exempt status, but the NFL is technically classified as a 501(c)6 organization. Here’s how the IRS describes 501(c)6 tax-exempt status:
Section 501(c)(6) of the Internal Revenue Code provides for the exemption of business leagues, chambers of commerce, real estate boards, boards of trade and professional football leagues, which are not organized for profit and no part of the net earnings of which inures to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual.
Wow. You know what that means, right? Yeah, just like every other insanely rich corporation, bank, or person in this country, the NFL has come up with a way to get around paying their fair share of taxes.
Look, I'm not trying to say the NFL is evil or that I'm not ever going to root for the Redskins again, I'm simply pointing out one example (among thousands of others) of how far out of whack our priorities are. Why does the NFL exist and prosper? Because it can. There are thousands and thousands of people who believe that it's OK to get paid $18Million/year to play football games for 5 or 6 months out of the year. Yeah. Sure! Even though a large percentage of fans will earn nowhere close to $18Million in their entire lifetime. Doesn't matter. We like to root for our team, dammit! Whether it's baseball, football, hockey, or basketball... there seems to be something programmed within us that makes us enjoy rooting for professional athletes and teams and spend our hard-earned money making them richer. I don't get it. I can understand supporting high school and college teams so fanatically -after all, those players aren't making millions of dollars. They're playing for the love of the game. But you don't see them receiving celebrations and parades anywhere near the magnitude of professional sports. Why?