Does The NFL Deserve Nonprofit Status?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

In addition to local franchises getting tax breaks, the NFL as a league retains nonprofit status that lets it avoid millions of dollars in taxes. As we prepare for Sunday's Super Bowl, Gregg Easterbrook, author of The King of Sports: Football’s Impact on America, discusses the arrangement and the big money in pro football.


Gregg Easterbrook

Comments [20]

Eric Sussman

I got a good idea!!! Lets do an experiment,give young healthy men,body enhancing steroids,human growth factors,chemically induced muscles,pills for every possible muscle group !! Then,send them out on the field,protect only their outer layer of skin and beat each other to a pulp,pummeling each other, over and over, again and again,to gain control over an egg shaped pig skin...all for the glory of a touchdown !!!
Oh,wait...we already have this...isn't it called professional sports???

Feb. 01 2014 07:17 PM
mikec from wilmington nc

You complain about the NFL and then vote for an idiot like Obama who

takes money out of your pocket and gives it to the leaches that don't want

to work. Don't blame the business blame the people that made the laws.

And don't vote in another Marksist.

Mike wilmington

Feb. 01 2014 06:06 AM
John from NYC

From the NY Times Business Section - Super Bowl Estimate with a Life of Its Own. This article is about the supposed $600MM benefit to the region for this event.

Jan. 29 2014 05:01 PM
amalgam from NYC by day, NJ by night

Does The NFL Deserve Nonprofit Status?


Jan. 29 2014 12:09 PM

Good guest and caller info. All aspects of this unholy “legal” swindle need to be pursued and corrected. Please post the links mentioned on air.

Jan. 29 2014 11:07 AM

Is this the link Jose referred to?

NYC is also unlikely to locally benefit from Superbowl money, given the percentage that ends up in corporate hands:

So in addition to its non-profit status, the NFL also socializes the additional infrastructural burden on NYC while keeping the private benefits among themselves and corporations.

Jan. 29 2014 10:56 AM

Either really be a 'not for profit' - i.e. spend it or get taxed. It's that simple for me.

Jan. 29 2014 10:55 AM
Bob from Pelham, NY

A small example of the NFL's chutzpah: despite making billions of dollars on the Super Bowl, it was actively recruiting NY and NJ people to volunteer (i.e., work for free) to staff various hospitality functions for Super Bowl visitors.

Jan. 29 2014 10:47 AM
Lev from Sunset Park, BK

Hey, how about referring to yesterday's caller (me) who related the NFL to big oil? They both enrich themselves by feeding our destructive (to brains/to environment) addictions (violent entertainment/fossil fuel consumption) while our elected government facilitates it all through taxes and subsidies. Us citizens' idiocy about the environment is mirrored in our idiocy about football! Thanks.

Jan. 29 2014 10:46 AM
Michael D. D. White from Brooklyn Heights

Maybe the title of this segment should be: "Is Our Country Brain-damaged (Encephalopathy?) For Having Conferred Nonprofit Status On The NFL?"

Jan. 29 2014 10:46 AM

I finally had a chance to see Frontline's excellent "League of Denial: The NFL's Concussion Crisis (Parts 1 & 2)" last night. As I watched, I was thinking about the NFL's non-profit status, especially since the State of the Union was sandwiched by both parts; I love that the taxpayers subsidize the NFL while certain members of Congress continue to debate whether we should "force" businesses to adhere to a livable minimum wage.

Jan. 29 2014 10:45 AM
Gene from Hamilton Beach

I did not find IRS Form 990 (Informational Returns) for Major League Baseball or the National Basketball League, but here is the link to the Nonprofit Hockey League's latest Form 990 for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2012:

The NHL Commissioner received compensation of "only" $4,648,932.

Jan. 29 2014 10:45 AM
Bev from NYC

Mayor de Blasio, make the NFL pay taxes on its NYC headquarters and spend the money for full-day pre-K for all NYC kids!

Jan. 29 2014 10:43 AM

The NFL is an atrocity and does not deserve its tax exempt status.

THe NFL Boulevard is offensive and nauseating. It's bad enough that the game is being held in NJ. Why does the NFL have to ram the Super Bowl down our throats with this major disruption in the heart of Manhattan?

Jan. 29 2014 10:43 AM
Jean Simeon from midtown

"The NFL's exemption has a long history. Section 501(c)(6) was amended following the AFL-NFL merger in 1966 to include "professional football leagues (whether or not administering a pension fund for football players)," language to make clear that the league was still qualified under the section, despite paying pension benefits to individuals. However, professional sports leagues were already qualified under that section prior to the additional language. Major League Baseball has since given up its exemption, in 2007, reportedly because of changes to the code that required disclosure of executive salaries. The NBA has never been tax exempt."

From the following ESPN article (

Jan. 29 2014 10:41 AM
Michael D. D. White from Brooklyn Heights

Don't forget to discuss how the NFL creates franchises that are MONOPOLIES, a problem when governments subsidize these franchises but can never create their own teams instead of handing over the bucks.

Jan. 29 2014 10:41 AM

Non profit status should only be for charity organizations. The NFL doesn't give crap away or help anyone. its a business, just like walmart.

Jan. 29 2014 10:41 AM

This is abhorrent! Tax the crap out of the NFL!

Jan. 29 2014 10:39 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

It may seem absurd, considering the millions Mr. Goodell makes in salary, but I believe it's the franchises and the players that get taxed, after the money is doled out. Blame our tax laws not the NFL.

Jan. 29 2014 09:42 AM
Gene from Hamilton Beach

According to the latest (March 31, 2012) filing with the IRS [available at:], the "Nonprofit" Football League (NFL) had total assets of $822,763,903 and spent $1,520,706 during its fiscal year (April 1, 2011 - March 31, 2012) on lobbying and other political expenditures. Commissioner Roger Goodell received annual compensation of $29,490,000. Six other executive vice presidents received compensation of $935,000 to $8,829,000, and former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue received $3,894,000 in compensation. The NFL also gave loans, totaling $2,250,000, to two of its "Senior Executives."

The IRS filing shows that the "NFL administers bank funds owned jointly by all 32 member clubs on their behalf. Additions during the year totaled $3,488,096,000 and distributions totaled $4,318,135,000."

Maybe Walmart and Exxon-Mobil should be nonprofits as well.

Jan. 29 2014 09:41 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.