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Canceling out Sherrod Brown's vote with mine

Tom Jackson • May 9, 2014 at 3:39 PM

What should taxes be used for? I would argue that subsidizing wealthy sports team owners isn't a legitimate use.

Voters Tuesday in Cuyahoga County approved renewing a "sin tax" to "Keep Cleveland Strong" by using gushers of tax money for the upkeep of the arenas and stadiums where the Cleveland Indians, Cleveland Browns and Cleveland Cavaliers play. I know that Sen. Sherrod Brown voted for it because he said last week, in a conference call with reporters, that he would. I voted against it.

I'm not criticizing the senator for his vote; I'm sympathetic to him and the other folks who supported the issue. My vote was essentially a protest vote, cast knowing that the issue would likely pass by a wide margin.

I am just not willing to subsidize sports team owners.

It's one thing to say that taxes are a necessary evil, because they raise money to pay for national defense, capital improvements and aid to the poor. In reality, a lot of that money is misspent, but it's an argument that I can understand. 

Sports in this country is run by wealthy people, played by wealthy people, and supported by a gusher of private money, including corporate sponsorships and TV revenues. If taxpayers didn't support sports, we'd still have football, baseball and basketball.

Let's call the vote what it is — a form of blackmail. The implied threat is that if the public doesn't pay for sports stadiums, the teams might move to a city that will. The threat doesn't have to be voiced aloud. No one has forgotten when the Browns went to Baltimore.

So yeah, I understand the folks who voted "Yes." They don't want to lose the teams. 

I don't want to lose them either, but I don't think taxes should be used as a form of welfare for people who have enough money to buy an NFL team. There ought to be a law against using tax money to subsidize pro sports, so that cities can't be played off against each other. 

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