Monday, August 17, 2015

The NFL, Stadiums, Critics, and For Profit Status

As the first week of the NFL pre-season comes to a close, the rumblings of the critics regarding the celebrity and money can already be heard throughout social media. It's easy to hate on the million dollar salaries. I completely understand that, especially from those who have paid taxes to build stadiums that have supported the NFL and its 32 franchises. Stay informed, and, the information isn't positive across the board in every city and every area that is home to one of these 32 franchises.

The players and local teams are quite active, however, with local charities. If you happen to live in the vicinity of an NFL franchise, you know this as fact. Teams, players and coaches are out in the community donating not only money but time and energy to local causes. Also, the NFL, after 70 years running as a non-profit, finally will willingly begin paying taxes as a for profit institution this year. (Source:

That's not all that these teams and stadiums offer to the cities that are home to them. The local games do support local jobs, local tax revenue, local recreation and local relaxation. There are some stadiums that aren't as strategically located or as intelligently designed as to incorporate into a city's overall consumer and convention business plan. Those cities that have done the due diligence to directly link these stadiums into the life-force that is their downtowns have seen tremendous growth in convention business and in small business startups. 

Many of the players are actually well-intentioned. I've had the pleasure of meeting many of them over the years, as well as a few coaches, like Tony Dungy. I don't agree with Dungy on politics AT ALL, but him and his family have suffered greatly, as his son committed suicide, and personally, they were always very kind. I have seen firsthand how his family and all the players are hounded wherever they go, regardless of the personal tragedies that each might be enduring.

The players I knew over long periods of time were good people who contributed greatly to their community. People cherish these players, these teams, and those people support the charities those players and teams support. It's a pay it forward multiplied by all the fans of all the players.  

Does this all even out? I don't know. I do know the physical side effects of multiple concussions myself . . . without the benefit of the paycheck. The impact of multiple concussions is significant and long-lasting, maybe lifelong. 

So, I don't know if I'd take the admonishments of people that aren't well-informed over those that know the people involved and the medical issues that players are left with after the games are over. I certainly haven't benefitted from knowing the players or Dungy. Maybe others have, but I haven't witnessed that either. 

I do wonder if much of this is just jealousy of success and fame without understanding the costs of both. We live in an era that celebrates celebrity culture, but tears down individuals as quickly as they are built up.

I do know that these NFL players spent much of their childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood during college working their asses off in practice and in the gym consistently to become the embodiment of the perfection of physical human form in order to throw themselves into these stadiums for others to cheer them on when they succeed and tear them down when they fail.

For every single player on that field, there are countless coaches, teachers, principals, previous teammates, parents, brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, churches neighbors . . . all of whom had a role in that player walking out onto that field. No one gets to where they are all on their own.

There's much more to this than the million dollar contracts and the multi-million dollar stadiums. I do think each city and each state has to balance the benefits and the costs to create the most effective symbiotic relationship that supports their community's overall needs. These partnerships should be exactly that . . . a partnership to build a better future for the entire community.
Sorry Bears fans

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