(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) issued the following statement on the National Football League’s (NFL) decision today that it will end its tax-exempt status.
““The NFL’s sacrifice of its tax exempt status seems more like a PR stunt than a real gain. The tax-exempt status produces a pittance compared to its Congressionally-granted antitrust exemption – enabling billions in broadcast revenue. The NFL is exempted from laws that govern every other industry and business entity, not to mention huge benefits in state and local subsidies and sweetheart stadium deals. Sacrificing this tax exemption to avoid a distraction – according to Commissioner Goodell – should not distract from the real issue: the NFL’s public trust concerning domestic violence, drug use, concussions and other health issues.
“I plan to reintroduce the SPORTS Act (Sustained Promotion Of Responsibility in Team Sports), which would demand periodic review of the antitrust exemptions provided to the NFL, NHL, NBA and MLB for the purpose of jointly negotiating television contracts. Congress would have the opportunity to decide whether to reauthorize the exemptions every five years, based on whether the leagues can make a showing that they provide a public benefit.”
The SPORTS Act would sunset the four major professional sports leagues’ (NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA) permanent anti-trust exemption, and replace it with an every-five-years reauthorization conditioned on the leagues acting consistently with the public trust their special status requires. Largely unchanged since 1961, these exemptions have provided significant financial support and other benefits for the leagues regardless of their actions.
Under the SPORTS Act, the leagues’ antitrust exemptions would sunset one year after the bill’s enactment. Before the exemptions sunset, Congress will go through an expedited process—comparable to the budget reconciliation process—that guarantees an up or down vote on a five year reauthorization.
Blumenthal originally introduced the SPORTS Act in Congress’ 113th Session.