Allstate Good Hands Good Deed?

As collegiate football got underway this past weekend, it did not take Allstate Insurance long to update their good hands, good deed declarations during games to assert that they have now donated $3.4 million dollars (a paltry increase of two hundred thousand dollars over the past year) to fund college general scholarships during the past ten years, it is only right that I update and repost my blog criticizing the insurance conglomerate for having the audacity to boast about such a trifling dollar amount considering all the free advertising it receives each week.

Anyone who watches college football knows all to well that the Allstate Good Hands logo is placed advantageously in a great many stadiums across the country in the middle of the netting that is raised behind the goal posts on point after touchdowns and field goal attempts in order to prevent the kicked football from going into the stands. At first glance, it appears that Allstate is doing a great deed by donating money to fund college scholarships. However, when you consider all the free publicity the company receives all season long, generosity might not be the best word to describe Allstate’s publicity stunt. How many times are these logos shown during the course of each season for every college and university stadium that allows these netting logos? How many times during the year will game announcers proclaim to its viewers that Allstate has donated $3.4 million for college scholarships? Every time the logo-laden netting is raised or the announcers make the proclamation, it is the equivalent one more free commercial for the insurance conglomerate.

I know not what a thirty-second commercial airing during a typical college football game costs, let alone that of a bowl game or the national championship playoffs, however for all the free advertising that it receives every year, Allstate should be embarrassed that it has donated only $3.4 million to fund college scholarships. Allstate should have donated at least ten times that amount, if not one hundred times more than it has before it boasts of its good deed.

Steven H. Spring
The Ohio State University, Class of ‘87

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Why Does The U.S. Government Consider The National Football League A Charitable Organization?

February 26, 2014

While reading the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch sports pages the other day, I noticed that National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell received more than forty-four million dollars in compensation last year.  With nearly ten billion dollars in annual revenue, my first thought was how is it possible that the NFL can assert itself a non-profit financial entity for tax purposes, thus avoiding paying its fair share of income taxes?  The NFL is not the only sports league to declare itself tax-exempt, as Major League Baseball and the NCAA have as well.  More than likely, these three are not the only leagues to do so; they are the three of which I am aware.

Why is it that nearly seventy percent of U.S. corporations are regarded as non-profits?  According to the latest available Internal Revenue Service statistics, the percentage of non-profits has grown from twenty-four percent in 1986 to sixty-nine percent by 2008.  Why the sudden surge in the number of corporations that consider themselves not-for-profit?  This percentage is far higher when you add in sole proprietors and partnerships.

As the uproar over the alleged wrongdoings by the IRS, regarding the targeting of Republican political action committees’ tax-exempt status, has died down and with it any proven unlawful activity uncovered, Congress now needs to investigate why it was, in 1959 that the IRS changed the wording of the actual law regarding the qualifications for tax-exemption status.  I am not an attorney, nor a tax expert (who is?); however, the law as written by Congress in Section 501(C) of the tax code requires any entity not organized for profit, applying for tax-exempt status as a social welfare organization to be operated “exclusively” for the promotion of social welfare.

As a former audit supervisor with the Auditor of State of Ohio, I understand how the perception of improprieties over the IRS choosing to determine the validity of the applications (isn’t that their job?) of far more Republican PACs than Democratic groups because, judging solely by the number of commercials these PACs air during elections, far more Republican PACs have been created since Barack Obama was first elected president than Democratic PACs.  As an auditor, one cannot look at every single revenue source nor every expenditure, you must rely on materiality.  If far more Republican PACs are filing for tax-exempt status than Democratic PACs, it only makes sense that many more Republican PACs will be audited.

The real crime that comes to light over this alleged transgression though, is why, in 1959 did the IRS change its interpretation of the 501(C) code, when they changed the wording of “exclusively” to “primarily” regarding an organization’s civic duty as a promoter of social welfare.  What exactly is the kind of social welfare being promoted “primarily,” let alone “exclusively” by the National Football League and a great many other tax evaders?

My fellow Buckeye, John Kaskinen, the commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, needs to be called before Congress and be informed that his agency will immediately change the wording of the code to properly reflect the actual wording of law regarding 501(C) tax-exempt status.  I also highly recommend Congress appropriate enough funds to the IRS so that it can examine the tax status of every organization that is currently avoiding its fair share of income tax.

How can an organization that pays it executive officer nearly forty-five million dollars, all the while purportedly being “primarily” in the business of providing social welfare, let alone “exclusively?”  This exemption is a travesty to the American taxpayer!

Steven H. Spring

Throwaway, Not Throwback Uniforms

November 18, 2013

Watching the very end of the Michigan-Northwestern football game Saturday, I was tempted to update my post concerning the wearing of obscenely dreadful looking uniforms by both college and professional teams in both football and basketball, but decided against it, as it was only just a few weeks ago that I had previously done so.  Northwestern players were wearing some sort of variation of the stars and stripes, I assume out of respect of this past Monday’s Veterans Day celebration.  I am not sure if being color-blind had anything to do with it, however, the uniforms did not look all that red, white and blue to me, looking nothing like the colors of this nation’s flag.

That all changed yesterday afternoon while getting ready to watch the Battle of Ohio as the Cleveland Browns took on the Cincinnati Bengals, who themselves always wear somewhat revolting looking tiger-striped uniforms.  Granted, as a life-long Browns fan, I must admit that I hate the Bengals, no matter what they wear, and have a very biased opinion regarding their uniforms. During the final minutes of the Fox network’s pregame show, the station showed the Pittsburgh Steelers preparing to take the field wearing their throwback uniforms.  Prison stripes was the first thought that came to mind when watching quarterback Ben Roethlisberger lead his team onto the field.  Seeing those ridiculous looking uniforms made me decide to update this post.

Why is it this nation’s sports teams take great pride in wearing hideous looking throwback uniforms?  We all know the answer, that being money.  Uniform makers, such as Nike, Adidas and Under Armour make millions of dollars selling team jerseys, and by having more than just the typical home and away jerseys means much more revenue.  Granted, there are several pro teams whose throwback uniforms look better than what they currently wear, as the New England Patriots, Buffalo Bills and the San Diego Chargers come to mind.  I believe the Bills have decided to switch back to their throwback uniforms as the official team uniform.  What sets these three teams apart from all other teams is that they came into existence in 1960 during the creation of the American Football League, which later merged with the National Football League in 1970.  I have yet to see a throwback uniform dating back much longer than 1960 that does not look repulsive.

Another thing many teams are doing is wearing black uniforms, even though the official team colors are anything but that.  Again, the reason is money, as athletic apparel makers know all to well that black jerseys sell.  While channel surfing in search of a good game to watch; now days you never can tell what teams are playing because of all the different uniforms being worn.  Call me old-fashioned, or just plain old, however, when I watch a game I like to be able to recognize the teams playing by their uniforms.  Not being able to do so, I might as well be watching a game between the Muncie Flyers and the Canton Bulldogs, two original NFL teams instead of two current Super Bowl contenders.

Thankfully, when the Browns, the team of my youth, wear their throwback uniforms, they look almost identical to what they currently wear.  The only thing that indicates something different is a small number on the helmets.  The reasoning for the popularity of these modified throwback uniforms, we are told, is that the players like them.  However, we all know the real reasoning for the old-time uniforms.  Authentic team apparel is big business.  That is the sole reason for throwback jerseys rapid rise in popularity in recent years.

As a nation, America long ago lost any sense of pride we have in our appearance.  It always amazes me when I see photos from the Great Depression, where men stood in soup lines wearing suits and ties.  These days, in our anything goes culture, young men proudly wear their pants down around their knees, arrogantly displaying their underwear for all to see.  One need only walk throughout a shopping mall or grocery store to see that now days, the less clothing the better.  People no longer get dressed up to go to church.

As proof to my claim that people just don’t care about their appearance anymore, one need only view the website People Of WalMart.  The first and only time I did so, my thought was this just has to be some sort of Halloween prank.  Surely, these people did not appear in public thinking they looked respectable.  However, it turns out that the photos posted were actual Wal-Mart customers.  Unbelievable is the word that comes to mind.

Steven H. Spring

Allstate Good Hands Good Deed?

November 8, 2013

Since Allstate has updated their good hands, good deed declarations during college football games to assert that they have now donated $3.2 million dollars to fund college general scholarships, it is only right that I update and repost my blog criticizing the insurance conglomerate for having the audacity to boast about such a trifling dollar amount considering all the free advertising it receives each week.

Anyone who watches college football knows all to well that the Allstate Good Hands logo is placed advantageously in a great many stadiums across the country in the middle of the netting that is raised behind the goal posts on point after touchdowns and field goal attempts in order to prevent the kicked football from going into the stands.  At first glance, it appears that Allstate is doing a great deed by donating money to fund college scholarships.  However, when you consider all the free publicity the company receives all season long, generosity might not be the best word to describe Allstate’s publicity stunt.

How many times are these logos shown during the course of each season for every college and university stadium that allows these netting logos?  How many times every year do game announcers proclaim to its viewers that Allstate has donated $3.2 million for college scholarships?  Every time the logo-laden netting is raised or the announcers make the proclamation, it is the equivalent one more free commercial for the insurance conglomerate.

I know not what a thirty-second commercial airing during a typical college football game costs, however for all the free advertising that it receives every year; Allstate should be embarrassed that it has donated only $3.2 million to fund college scholarships.  Allstate should have donated at least ten times that amount, if not one hundred times more than it has before it boasts of its good deed.

Steven H. Spring
The Ohio State University, Class of ‘87

Throwaway, Not Throwback Uniforms

October 21, 2013

Why is it that football teams, both college and professional, take great pride in wearing hideous looking throwback uniforms?  We all know the answer, that being money.  Uniform makers, such as Nike, Adidas and Under Armour make millions of dollars selling team jerseys, and by having more than just the typical home and away jerseys means much more revenue.  Especially from fans of the Oregon Ducks, who have something like three hundred different possible game uniform combinations.

Watching Sunday’s game between the Green Bay Packers and my beloved Cleveland Browns, I could not help but laugh at the dreadful looking throwback uniforms worn by the Packers.  There is a very good reason why that team changed the design of their uniforms many years ago, that being they are truly ugly.  The Browns might have gotten their butts kicked by the Packers, but at least they did not look comical in doing so.

For it to be truly a throwback uniform, there should only be a couple of numbers and maybe the team name or insignia.  And especially no uniform manufacturer’s name or emblem plastered everywhere. However this is never the case.  Football lost its soul when it started placing the player’s name on the back of the jersey.  Identification of each player is the reason for a number in the first place.  After adding names, football as a game, changed from being about team and instead, certain position players (i.e., quarterbacks, running backs and especially now, wide receivers) have become huge stars, many times overshadowing the very team for which they play.

Granted, there are several pro teams whose throwback uniforms look better than what they currently wear, those being the New England Patriots, Buffalo Bills and the San Diego Chargers.  However, all three of these teams came into existence in 1960 during the creation of the American Football League, which later merged with the National Football League in 1970.  I have yet to see a throwback uniform dating back much longer than 1960 that does not look repulsive.

Another thing many college teams are doing is wearing black uniforms, even though the school colors are anything but that.  Again, the reason is money, as Nike, Adidas and Under Armour all know that black jerseys sell.  While channel surfing in search of a good game to watch; now days you never can tell what teams are playing because of all the different uniforms being worn.  Call me old-fashioned, or just plain old, however, when I watch a game I like to be able to recognize the teams playing by their uniforms.  Not being able to do so, I might as well be watching a game between Podunk U. and Northeastern Southwest State instead of two traditional powerhouse universities.

Thankfully, when the Browns, the team of my youth, wear their throwback uniforms, they look almost identical to what they currently wear.  The only thing that indicates something different is a small number on the helmets.  The reasoning for the popularity of these modified throwback uniforms, we are told, is that the players like them.  In reality however, what really do 18-20 year old, college kids know?  It is this very same generation who proudly wear their pants down around their knees.  We all know the real reasoning for the old-time uniforms.  Authentic team apparel is big business.  That is the sole reason for throwback jerseys rapid rise in popularity in recent years.

Steven H. Spring

Should The Buckeyes Play All Their Home Football Games At Night?

September 30, 2013

Watching the Ohio State-Wisconsin football game Saturday night in prime time, it didn’t take a life-long Buckeye fan to feel the exuberance radiating throughout Ohio Stadium all game long.  For some time now, I have been opining that the OSU-Michigan game should be played under the lights as well.  However, many Buckeye and Wolverine fans will say that tradition dictates The Game be played at noon.  I say hogwash, that Big Money has long ago replaced tradition as the driving force in a sport that likes to think itself as being amateur in all things, despite earning billions of dollars annually.  It doesn’t take an economist to realize that the NCAA’s basketball and football programs are semi-pro, minor league developmental leagues for the NBA, WNBA and the NFL.

The following is a copy of my letter to OSU athletic director Gene Smith and head football coach Urban Meyer in which I express this sentiment.

Sincerely,
Steven H. Spring
The Ohio State University, Class of ‘87

September 30, 2013

Mr. Gene Smith
Director of Athletics
The Ohio State University
Room 224, St. John Arena
410 Woody Hayes Drive
Columbus, Ohio 43210-1166

Dear Gene,

While over at my 87-year-old neighbor’s apartment watching the Browns beat the Bengals Sunday afternoon, I glanced at her Springfield newspaper’s sports section during halftime, as we were eating dinner.  Wanda, who loves the Browns, is the biggest football fan I know.  Earlier this year, she called to tell me that the Nebraska spring game was on the Big 10/14 Network.  She even watches arena football, for crying out loud.  If there is any type of football game on television, she watches.  A couple of years ago, she was disappointed when I told her I do not listen to Cleveland preseason games on the radio.  She once told me that the only item on her bucket list would be to attend a Browns game.  While reading her paper, an article about the OSU-Wisconsin game caught my attention when I read how much Coach Meyer loves night games, as do I.

The atmosphere in the Horseshoe Saturday night was electric, and was so throughout the entire game.  The newspaper article said the coach believes night games help in recruiting, as evidenced by the large number of recruits in attendance for the game.  Every single one of the high school players must have walked away from the game on cloud nine, envisioning themselves playing in such an emotional and exciting environment.  If Woody Hayes had been on the sidelines, even he would have to admit it doesn’t get any better than that.  However, one game in particular would be even better, maybe even twice as good, that being against that reviled School Up North.

Having every home at night, might be asking too much.  However, I firmly believe home games against quality opponents such as Nebraska, Wisconsin, Iowa, Penn State, Michigan State and especially Michigan should be a must.  I know some fans will be adamant in saying tradition dictates that the Michigan game be played at noon.  However, we both know tradition is long gone in collegiate sports.  When was the last time the Buckeyes and Wolverines both wore their traditional uniforms during The Game?  Playing games against the teams listed above at 8:00 p.m. means the entire nation would be tuned in.  A noon start for the Michigan game means half the country is just getting out of bed, while the other half is out running weekend errands.  When you consider all the other games being played that day, Ohio State-Michigan is just another game for most sports fans.

As electric as the crowd was for the Wisconsin game, imagine what the atmosphere would be like for Michigan.  It would be the biggest spectacle in all of sports!

Sincerely,
Steven H. Spring
The Ohio State University, Class of ‘87

C.: Coach Urban Meyer

Concussions, ESPN And The Powerful Influence Of The National Football League

September 4, 2013

As the National Football League kicks off its season tomorrow night, with a game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Denver Broncos, two separate events involving the league this past week could not be more ironic in nature.  First came the news that the sports network ESPN, which has numerous shows devoted to the league and broadcasts Monday Night Football, had backed out of a partnership with the Public Television Station’s investigative show Frontline, to produce a documentary concerning football related concussions.  Then came the reports that the league had agreed to a $765 million settlement over a class action lawsuit brought forth by more than 4,500 former players alleging that playing the sport had caused dementia and other brain maladies as a result of concussions.

As players have become bigger, stronger and faster, the number of concussions seemingly has increased every year, even though new designs in helmets help prevent them.  However, this could all be due in part to more medical attention being paid to the health of the players.  Years ago, after a vicious hit, a player was said to have had his bell rung.  We now know that what actually occurred was the player most likely suffered a concussion.

What is disgusting however, is the attempt to cover up the effects of bone-jarring hits that was recently carried out by the NFL.  Frontline and ESPN had been researching for more than a year the effects of concussions on professional football players.  However, after a preview trailer of the two-part documentary was shown to the press, a meeting was conducted over lunch with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, NFL Network President Steve Bornstein, ESPN President John Skipper and ESPN Executive Vice-President John Wildhack attending.  The topic of the meeting of course was the pending documentary.  Needless to say, it did not take long for ESPN to decide it no longer would be a participant of the program.  Was this purely a coincidence?  Not likely.

In a rather paradoxical twist to this drama, I place some blame on the sports network for the rise in the number of concussions.  It does not take a football coach to watch a game and notice the number of improper and illegal tackles being made.  Former defensive players turned television commentators often talk of bad tackling techniques.  This is where I place some blame on ESPN.  Instead of tackling a quarterback, running back or wide receiver properly, defensive players now go for the knockout blow, using the crown of their helmets as a weapon, hitting the opponent up around their head in order to make the network’s SportsCenter highlight reel.

Several years ago, PBS aired another Frontline documentary that addressed concussions and heat stroke among players, this time involving a high school football team from Arkansas.  Watching the program, my thought was every parent that had a child playing football, should see this show.  By the time the program ended, my conclusion was, if I had to do it again, I would not want my son playing the sport he loved playing as a child, as did I.

It turns out that concussions suffered by grown men playing a vicious sport are not the only concern that need be addressed.  It is the banging together of helmets by young children that occur on every play during every game and even during every practice that just might be the biggest area of alarm.  If I remember right, one person made the comment during the program that this shaking of the developing brains of young children that occurs during every single play was very much like shaking a bowl of Jell-O.

Granted, concussions are very serious, especially when a player is experiencing more than one over a short period of time, however, to me the biggest trepidation is this shaking of the brains that occurs in every young player hundreds of times each and every season and is a topic that no one is addressing.  This insightful program is available on the internet.  To watch it, do a Google search for Frontline program about Arkansas high school football to find a link for the show.  If you have a child playing the game, it is definitely something every parent should watch.

Steven H. Spring