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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Football and Politics

Even football plays politics. Politico reports:

The National Football League may be sitting on the sidelines thanks to a four-month long lockout, but it made plays for dozens of members of Congress during the latest fundraising quarter.

The league’s political action committee — the Gridiron PAC — doled out $110,000 to House and Senate incumbents during the last quarter, according to recently filed Federal Election Commission reports.

Recipients include All Pro names like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), who chairs the Democratic National Committee. Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, also scored a campaign contribution.

Meanwhile, the NFL spent $440,000 on federal lobbying efforts during the year’s second quarter, federal records show. That’s up from the $400,000 it spent during the year’s first quarter and more than it spent during any quarter in 2010. Last year, the league spent more on federal lobbying – nearly $1.5 million – than it has in any other full year.

The National Football League Players Association, meanwhile, spent $60,000 in both the first and second quarters of this year.

Beyond labor matters, issues the NFL reported lobbying on include Internet gambling, concussions, the NFL Network, performance-enhancing drugs and “aviation issues related to the FAA reauthorization” during the year’s second quarter.

Here is an example of NFL lobbying, from a June article in The Hill:

The National Football League filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission this week urging the agency not to end blackouts of local sports games.

NFL games are often blacked out locally when they fail to sell out 72 hours in advance in order to compel fans to buy tickets. The FCC's sports blackout rules prevent cable or satellite providers from carrying a game locally when the free broadcast has been blacked out under the Sports Broadcasting Act of 1961.

Last month the Sports Fan Coalition wrote to the FCC asking the agency to prevent games from being blacked out due to retransmission disputes between broadcasters and pay-TV providers, such as the recent standoff between Cablevision and Fox that caused millions of New York-area residents to miss the first two games of the 2010 World Series.

The NFL argued in response that the sports blackout rule serves the public interest and has been repeatedly approved by Congress. The League contends that waiving the rule during retrans disputes would encourage brinkmanship by pay-TV providers.

"The SFC’s proposal would not help fans, but instead would work to the advantage of only one interest: pay-TV providers," the NFL said