Right Field

End Sports Welfare as We Know It

I’ve hit on this theme before, particularly with respect to publicly financed stadiums. It bears repeating:

During the recent presidential race, Mitt Romney was pilloried for his surreptitiously recorded remarks that “47 percent” of Americans are “dependent upon government,” believe that they are “entitled to … you name it” and will never be persuaded to “take personal responsibility and care for their own lives.” Romney was wrong about the 47 percent. (Disagree? Send your hate mail here before going Galt.) But he was right about the country hosting a system-gaming moocher class, an entitled, irresponsible, parasitic piglet subset, lazily suckling from the public teat, pulled up by shiny new bootstraps purchased with government giveaways, forever hiding in plain sight.

To find them, just flip on ESPN.

Or better still, visit any sports stadium.

They’re the team owners sitting in luxury boxes built with taxpayer dollars, charging PSL fees for seats constructed with the same. They’re the athletes writing off fines for bad behavior. They’re the multimillion-dollar professional leagues, Ozymandias-shaming college athletic departments and — ahem — charitable bowl games all enjoying lucrative and dubious non-profit status. Their ranks include Tiger Woods, whose namesake foundation once received a $100,000 federal grant; the Baseball Hall of Fame, which pocketed $1.57 million in federal funds between 2002 and 2006; and the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame, which seven years ago was given $75,000 as part of a larger appropriations bill funding the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development. (Additional point of incredulous outrage: The Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame doesn’t even include Jim Brown.) They are the undeserving beneficiaries of inappropriate, unnecessary public subsidy, feathering their overstuffed nests of downy-soft private profit, adding to America’s astronomical charge card bill all the while. They are the Welfare Kings (hi again, Jeffrey Loria!) and Queens (rest in peace, Georgia Frontiere!) of sports, crying poor while grifting and lifting society’s collective wallet, perpetually grabbing for more, more, more.

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