What The NFL Gets Right

Photo by Jean-Daniel Francoeur

If you’re looking for a model of socialism that works, look no further than the NFL.

Despite the Philadelphia Eagles’ loss, this past weekend showed how much we love football. About 100 million people watched the Super Bowl last Sunday night and during the 2021 regular season, NFL games ranked as 48 of the top 50 shows on TV.

It may be hard to know what makes football the most popular professional sport in America, but its competitiveness must be one of the reasons.

Competition is a part of the American ethos. Economists tell us competition between businesses keeps prices down, spurs innovation, and creates wealth for everyone. And despite the refutation of their theory by science, social Darwinists continue to claim that competition makes better people.

The NFL remains the most competitive professional sports system in the united states. Web page 538, which does statistical modeling for elections and sports, found, “When it comes to close contests, 2022 is shaping up to be an all-timer. So far this season, 92 games (90 decisions and two ties) have been decided by 6 points or fewer, the most through Week 14 in NFL history.. . at least half of all games played in nine out of 14 weeks were decided by 6 points or fewer.” Teams that finished last in their division often make the playoffs the following year. The Jacksonville Jaguars went from a winning percentage in 2021 of .176 to win their division; last year’s Super Bowl winner, the Los Angeles Rams, failed to make the playoffs this year.

There is more competition in the NFL than in corporate America. Consider how many corporations buy other companies, so they don’t have to compete. Are there NFL rules that make Football competitive that we should support to improve competition between corporations?

The NFL doesn’t allow owners to own more than one team. Unlike corporations who buy up other successful companies and limit competition, the NFL would never allow Jerry Jones, the billionaire owner of the Dallas Cowboys, to buy the Eagles, who keep defeating his team. It’s time to stop corporations from buying up their competitors and enforce the anti-trust laws passed years ago.

Controlling how much is spent is something else the NFL does to keep the games competitive. There is a salary cap; no team may spend more on players than any other, and a salary floor; every team must spend at least a certain amount to stay in the league. If we set a cap on how much any corporation could spend on lobbying or “dark money campaign contributions,” we could have fairer laws that create an equal playing field for all corporations. We could also consider a cap on how much any corporation could pay for public relations, forcing the companies to innovate, lower prices, and create better products, not better advertisements.

The NFL ensures that teams stay competitive by helping those who struggled the previous year. It gives the teams with the worse records the best choices for picking new players. And the teams with the best records receive the last picks and harder schedules. It is a type of tax on those who won so other teams will stay competitive.

If we followed the NFL when it comes to tax policy, we would establish a “windfall profit tax” on successful corporations and use the money to help start-ups and struggling businesses compete with last year’s winners.

And finally, the NFL rewards teams that fight past abuses. While the system is far from perfect, the NFL awards extra draft picks to teams that create an opportunity for minority coaches to become head coaches.
We could do similar things with our tax system. Corporations that have profit sharing and overcome past racist practices could receive tax rebates.

If our government really believed that competition between corporations is good for all of us, then instead of taking checks from corporate lobbyists, they would take some ideas from the NFL.

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