The corporate game behind football bowl games

For thrilling sports action on television, it's hard to top the sheer excitement of bowling, isn't it?
Jim Hightower's Radio Lowdown
Jim Hightower's Radio Lowdown
The corporate game behind football bowl games
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For thrilling sports action on television, it’s hard to top the sheer excitement of bowling, isn’t it?

No, not that game of 10-pins, but the passion and pageantry of college football’s bowl season! America’s elite, powerhouse teams are rewarded for their successful seasons by traveling to various sunny vacation spots to play each other in such memorable “classics” as the GoDaddy Bowl, the Outback Bowl, the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, and of course the Quick Lane Bowl (which actually sounds more like bowling than football).

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In fact, the proliferation of bowls has become so ridiculous that even teams with poor seasons are playing in them. Who could resist watching the Cure Bowl, for example, pitting Georgia State (which lost half of its games this season) against San Jose State (which had a losing season)? There are now more than 40 bowls games, with three featuring teams that lost more games than they won, while nine include blah teams that won six and lost six.

The real game, however, is not on the field, but the gaming of our tax laws by the corporate sponsors. Practically every one of these bowls has a brand-name corporation behind it, using the highly-hyped matchups to draw TV viewers, who’re then blitzed for three hours or so with the sponsor’s ads. All of this is hinged on a trick play – the IRS allows the sponsoring corporation to treat these self-promotion telecasts as a cost of doing business, wholly deductible from its tax bill. The upshot is that bowl games that wouldn’t be able to pay for themselves through free-market ticket sales are artificially sustained by a corporate hustle that relies on a huge unwarranted government subsidy.

There’s even one game called the TaxSlayer Bowl sponsored by a dot-com outfit that specializes in – guess what? – teaching people and businesses to dodge taxes. How’s that for unintended irony?

“Battling the bastards is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.”

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