Florida, Texas, and California Should Ask the NFL to Pay Them

The NFL is a lucrative business, generating an estimated profit of nearly $1 billion in 2014 — the most recently available projection.[1] That profitability depends in large part on its players, a combined 32% of whom were born in Florida, Texas, and California, based on opening day 2016 NFL rosters.[2] This is not a new phenomenon, as this percentage has been even higher in past years.[3] It’s not surprising, of course, since these states have the highest populations in the U.S. Also not surprising, is that Florida, Texas, and California provide a similar percentage of top high school prospects to college football programs.[4]

So, Florida, Texas, and California make outsized contributions to the NFL’s final product: football games played by great athletes. It seems that these states should share in the NFL’s profits. After all, they clearly support football by spending money on the sport and endorsing it through their youth and high school football programs. As we now know, this endorsement is not without cost. The dangers of football, particularly to the brain, are well documented.

Yet, Florida, Texas, and California continue to encourage participation in football, much to the NFL’s benefit. Shouldn’t these states be rewarded financially for their contribution to the NFL’s success, much less for putting their young residents at increased risk?

One might argue that players from Florida, Texas, and California have made a great deal of money in the NFL and this is fair compensation to these states. Not quite, however, because Florida, Texas, and California have poured more players into football than other states to generate their larger numbers of professionals. The players that don’t become professionals receive no special compensation, while still running the risks of participation.

Instead of receiving payment from the NFL, however, Florida, Texas, and California have each subsidized NFL stadiums with taxpayer money (the Dolphins being a notable exception).[5] At a minimum, this should never happen again in Florida, Texas, or California (or anywhere else, probably, as Richard Sherman has commented). However, perhaps some skilled negotiation by Florida, Texas, and California, aided by the threat of reduced endorsement of football at the scholastic level, could result in the NFL going one step further: actually sharing profits with these states.

[1] http://money.cnn.com/2015/09/10/news/companies/nfl-revenue-profits/ http://operations.nfl.com/football-ops/economic-social-impact/. This figure is an estimate because only the Packers publicly report their financials.

[2] http://www.cleveland.com/datacentral/index.ssf/2016/09/which_states_produce_the_most.html

[3] http://usatodayhss.com/2015/which-state-city-and-high-school-has-the-most-current-nfl-players

[4] http://www.sbnation.com/college-football-recruiting/2016/6/28/12040586/rankings-state-stars-florida-texas-california

[5] https://www.protectingtaxpayers.org/assets/files/NFL-Subsidies-report-Sept2015.pdf.