Last weekend, protests at NFL games reached a climax when dozens of players either opted to kneel during the national anthem or avoid being on the field for it at all. Many of the players were directly retaliating to President Trump's urge not to protest. Now, division over the issue is thickening and people on both sides of the debate are working to make their point known.
Now, eyes are turned toward those who control the NFL's money: the league itself, sponsors of the league, and Congress. Recently, a bipartisan effort to eliminate federal funding for specific NFL purposes has been gaining steam.
According to the Daily Signal, the NFL has received around $7 billion in taxpayer dollars over the last two decades. This funding typically goes toward stadium renovation or building. Michael Sargent, an expert at the Heritage Foundation, commented on the loophole in the tax break system.
He said, "Tax-exempt municipal bonds are typically reserved for public-use projects such as bridges, water systems, and other infrastructure. Yet because of a loophole in the tax code, private-use stadiums can take advantage of this tax break, and have done so prolifically."
In light of the recent political-oriented protests, many members of Congress are refocusing on a bill that was proposed earlier in the summer. In a bipartisan effort, Sen.Cory Booker (D) and Sen. James Lankford (R) crafted a bill that would strip taxpayer funding from professional sports teams for arenas.
Booker said, "Professional sports teams generate billions of dollars in revenue. There’s no reason why we should give these multimillion-dollar businesses a federal tax break to build new stadiums. It’s not fair to finance these expensive projects on the backs of taxpayers, especially when wealthy teams end up reaping most of the benefits."
While the bill was proposed in June, a spokesman from Sen. Lankford's office told the Daily Wire that interest in it has significantly increased since the NFL protest controversies.
Other members of Congress have been speaking out about the federal NFL funding.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R) said, "In America, if you want to play sports you're free to do so. If you want to protests, you're free to do so. But you should do so on your own time and on your own dime...Some swamp creature of yesteryear cleverly defined sports leagues as 'tax-exempt organizations.' The public pays 70% of the cost of NFL stadiums."
Rep. Kenny Harvard (R) said, "I believe in the right to protest, but not at a taxpayer-subsidized sporting event. Do it on your own time. There are plenty of disabled children, elderly and veterans in this state that would appreciate that money."
What do you think about this? Should Congress try to move forward with this bill? Let us know your thoughts on Facebook. For other NFL news, Nike just became the first official NFL sponsor to address the protests. Here's what they said.