US sports monopolies and the 2016 presidential election (1)

An overall inside view of Raymond James Stadium November 11, 2013 in Tampa, Fla. before an NFL game between the Miami Dolphins and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The promotion was nationally televised on Monday Night Football. 50,000 cards were provided to fans by USAA, the official military appreciation sponsor of the NFL | David Drapkin/AP images for USAA)

An overall inside view of Raymond James Stadium November 11, 2013 in Tampa, Fla. before an NFL game between the Miami Dolphins and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The promotion was nationally televised on Monday Night Football. 50,000 cards were provided to fans by USAA, the official military appreciation sponsor of the NFL | David Drapkin/AP images for USAA)

Let an athlete express a progressive political view, and the media goes into hysterics to marginalize him. For the owners, however, it is viewed as routine: business as usual, as the following article demonstrates, itemizing how major owners are donating money to Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump and others.

The U.S. state protects the status of the owners of private professional sports franchises and enshrines monopoly right in law. They operate essentially as a cartel above the rule of law, while the state passes laws that shower them with more and more privileges so as to keep them in positions of monopoly power. The anti-trust exemption created in the Sports Broadcasting Act of 1961 allows the NFL, NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball to negotiate radio and TV broadcast rights together, enabling billions in broadcast revenue. Or, for example, they create bidding wars between rival cities offering massive public subsidies and infrastructure to create new and more lucrative stadiums. Commissioners have the power of god over the conduct of the athletes on and off the field and select, pay and fire the umpires to officiate the games according to rules set by the cartel.

In turn, as documented by the recent report titled “Tackling Paid Patriotism,” the Pentagon paid sports teams tens of millions of dollars for allowing the military-intelligence agencies to carry out hundreds of displays of pro-war, pro-military propaganda. From 2012 to 2015 alone, the US government spent $53 million “on marketing and advertising contracts with sports teams,” the report notes. “The majority of the contracts – 72 of the 122 contracts we analyzed – clearly show that DOD [Department of Defense] paid for patriotic tributes at professional football, baseball, basketball, hockey, and soccer games. These paid tributes included on-field color guard, enlistment and reenlistment ceremonies, performances of the national anthem, full-field flag details, ceremonial first pitches… DOD even paid teams for the ‘opportunity’ to perform surprise welcome home promotions for troops returning from deployments.” All of it is done in the name of enhancing democracy, promoting American exceptionalism and eliminating corruption. 

Here is a sampling of where self-serving investment from US sports owners to presidential candidates has been going during the 2016 presidential primary, as the crisis of the democratic institutions in the USA continues to deepen. – TS


(MARCH 11) – Ohio State coach Urban Meyer’s endorsement of John Kasich this week is just the latest example of a sports figure supporting a presidential candidate this primary season.

Jeb Bush and Chris Christie were the most popular recipients of NFL donations. But like so many who donated to Bush and Christie, the NFL’s money didn’t mean a thing in the year of Donald Trump.

Bush received at least $1.2 million in donations from NFL owners, according to public financing records located on Jets owner Woody Johnson was the national finance chairman for Bush’s campaign, which also got support from, among others, Peyton and Eli Manning and NCAA president Mark Emmert.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Hall of Famer Roger Staubach were among those who donated to Christie. Houston Texans owner Bob McNair poured in more than $3 million to six Republican campaigns.

In the NBA, Hillary Clinton has dominated donations, receiving money from commissioner Adam Silver and basketball legend Magic Johnson. The Milwaukee Bucks’ president, general manager and coach all gave to Clinton.

Marlene Ricketts, the matriarch of the family that owns the Chicago Cubs, has funded about $5 million to super political action committees (Super PACs) for Republican candidates. She gave $3 million to a PAC that’s airing ads against Trump, who responded with a tweet in late February that read: “I hear the Ricketts family, who own the Chicago Cubs, are secretly spending money against me. They better be careful, they have a lot to hide!”

I hear the Rickets family, who own the Chicago Cubs, are secretly spending $’s against me. They better be careful, they have a lot to hide!

Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts told the Chicago Tribune this month, “It’s a little surreal when Donald Trump threatens your mom. The fact is whether it’s my mom or my dad on his Ending Spending (PAC) or my sister on (supporting) marriage equality, or my brothers on what they do, or what we do with the team, we’re pretty much an open book. … Look, if we had something to hide, you guys would’ve found it by now I’m sure.”

So who from the sports world is supporting Trump? No donation matches were found during an extensive search of people who work in sports. Keep in mind, Trump is financing 70 percent of his campaign, according to, so the bulk of his money isn’t coming from contributions. By contrast, donations make up 94 percent or more of the money for every other candidate still in the field.

Trump has received public support in one form or another from some people in sports, such as Paul O’Neill, Tom Brady, Dennis Rodman, Terrell Owens, John Rocker, Latrell Sprewell, Mike Tyson and Herschel Walker. NASCAR CEO Brian France endorsed Trump in late February. Very few donations in sports have gone to Ted Cruz, who is Trump’s top challenger for the Republican nomination, or Bernie Sanders, who is Clinton’s only challenger for the Democratic nomination.

The most recent available donations are from Dec. 31, 2015. Because of that cutoff date, it’s not clear whether Meyer attached a donation with his recent endorsement of Kasich. There are no records showing Meyer has ever donated to a political campaign.

Here is a sampling of where the money from sports has been going during this primary season:

The table below includes contributions made by individuals to campaigns and Super PACs made available via public financing records on It is a sampling of campaign contributions and not necessarily a comprehensive list.

Mark Emmert, NCAA president Jeb Bush $1,000
Lou Holtz, ex-Notre Dame coach Jeb Bush Super PAC $250
Jeffrey Kessler, attorney for NCAA players Hillary Clinton $1,000
Mark Lewis, NCAA executive VP John Kasich $250
Tom McMillen, D-I AD assococation director Hillary Clinton $2,700
T. Boone Pickens, Oklahoma State booster Jeb Bush Super PAC $100,000
Jeb Bush $2,700
Carly Fiorina Super PAC $25,000
Ben Carson $10,000
Kevin Plank, Maryland booster Hillary Clinton $2,700
Chris Christie $2,700
Jeb Bush $2,700
Martin O’Malley $2,700
Gary Williams, ex-Maryland coach Jeb Bush $2,700
Jay Williams, ex-Duke player Hillary Clinton $2,700
Walt Anderson, NFL referee Ben Carson $250
Tom Benson, Saints owner Bobby Jindal $2,700
Bobby Jindal Super PAC $25,000
Jeb Bush Super PAC $100,000
Michael Bidwell, Cardinals president Chris Christie $2,700
Joel Bitonio, Browns guard Hillary Clinton $1,000
Mike Brown, Bengals owner John Kasich $2,700
Lindsey Graham $2,700
Dick Cass, Ravens president Jeb Bush $2,700
Kevin Demoff, Rams executive VP Hillary Clinton $2,700
Mike Ditka, ex-Bears coach Ben Carson $1,000
Joe Ellis, Broncos president Jeb Bush $2,700
Roger Goodell, NFL commissioner Chris Christie $2,700
Tony Gonzalez, ex-Chiefs tight end Hillary Clinton $2,700
John Greco, Browns guard Hillary Clinton $1,000
Jimmy Haslam, Browns owner Jeb Bush Super PAC $30,000
Jeb Bush $2,700
John Kasich $2,700
Woody Johnson, Jets owner Jeb Bush Super PAC $501,604
Jeb Bush $5,400
Jerry Jones, Cowboys owner Chris Christie $2,700
Stephen Jones, Cowboys executive VP Chris Christie $2,700
Mark Lamping, Jaguars president Chris Christie $2,700
Jeffrey Lurie, Eagles owner Hillary Clinton $2,700
Nick Mangold, Jets center Chris Christie $2,700
Archie Manning, ex-Saints quarterback Bobby Jindal $2,500
Eli Manning, Giants quarterback Jeb Bush $2,700
Peyton Manning, ex-Broncos quarterback Jeb Bush $2,700
Bob McNair, Texans owner Lindsey Graham Super PAC $500,000
Marco Rubio Super PAC $500,000
Jeb Bush Super PAC $500,000
Ted Cruz Super PAC $500,000
Carly Fiorina Super PAC $500,000
Mike Huckabee Super PAC $500,000
Carly Fiorina $2,700
Lindsey Graham $2,700
Marco Rubio $2,600
Jeffrey Pash, NFL executive VP John Kasich $1,000
Howard Roseman, Eagles executive VP John Kasich $2,700
Stephen Ross, Dolphins owner George Pataki Super PAC $50,000
Dean Spanos, Chargers owner Rick Perry Super PAC $5,000
Rick Perry $2,700
Jeb Bush $2,700
Emmitt Smith, NFL Hall of Famer Jeb Bush $500
Steve Smith, Ravens wide receiver Jeb Bush $2,500
Daniel Snyder, Redskins owner Jeb Bush Super PAC $100,000
Roger Staubach, NFL Hall of Famer Chris Christie $2,700
Andrew Whitworth, Bengals tackle Jeb Bush $2,700
Doug Williams, ex-Redskins quarterback Hillary Clinton $250
Hank Aaron, MLB Hall of Famer Hillary Clinton $2,700
Rocco Baldelli, Rays first base coach Bernie Sanders $250
Mike Chipman, Diamondbacks part-owner Marco Rubio $2,700
Bill DeWitt Jr., Cardinals owner Jeb Bush $2,700
Bill DeWitt III, Cardinals president Jeb Bush $2,700
David Glass, Royals owner Mike Huckabee $2,700
Davey Johnson, ex-Nationals manager Ben Carson $2,700
Ken Kendrick, Diamondbacks part-owner Chris Christie $1,000
Sam Kennedy, Red Sox president Hillary Clinton $2,700
Al Leiter, ex-pitcher Chris Christie $2,700
Peter Magowan, ex-Giants owner Chris Christie $2,700
Marlene Ricketts, family ownership of Cubs Scott Walker Super PAC $4.9 million
Ted Cruz Super PAC $10,000
Marco Rubio Super PAC $10,000
Rick Perry Super PAC $10,000
Jeb Bush Super PAC $10,000
Chris Christie Super PAC $10,000
Curt Schilling, ex-Red Sox pitcher Ben Carson $250
Chris Singleton, ex-MLB outfielder Ben Carson $250
Stuart Sternberg, Rays owner Chris Christie $2,700
Mark Teixeira, Yankees first baseman Marco Rubio $2,700
Tom Werner, Red Sox chairman Hillary Clinton $2,700
Fred Wilpon, Mets owner Chris Christie Super PAC $100,000
Chris Christie $2,700
Rolando Blackman, ex-guard Hillary Clinton $2,700
Jason Collins, ex-center Hillary Clinton $2,700
Peter Feigin, Bucks president Hillary Clinton $2,700
John Hammond, Bucks general manager Hillary Clinton $2,700
Grant Hill, ex-guard Hillary Clinton $2,700
Peter Holt, Spurs owner Rick Perry $2,700
Magic Johnson, Hall of Famer Hillary Clinton $2,700
Jason Kidd, Bucks coach Hillary Clinton $5,200
Billy King, ex-Nets general manager Hillary Clinton $2,700
Jim Paxson, ex-Cavaliers general manager Carly Fiorina $500
Vivek Ranadive, Kings owner Hillary Clinton $2,700
Pat Riley, Heat president Jeb Bush Super PAC $10,000
Jeb Bush $2,700
Adam Silver, NBA commissioner Hillary Clinton $2,700
Rory Babich, Panthers CEO Hillary Clinton $1,000
Mike Fisher, Predators center Ted Cruz $500
Erik Johnson, Avalanche defenseman Ben Carson $250
Peter Karamanos, Hurricanes owner Marco Rubio $2,700
Ben Carson $1,500
Craig Leipold, Wild owner Scott Walker Super PAC $50,000
Scott Walker $2,700
Jim Lites, Stars president Jeb Bush $1,000
David Morehouse, Penguins CEO Hillary Clinton $2,700
Chris Rooney, NHL referee Jeb Bush Super PAC $3,000
Jeffrey Vinik, Lightning owner Jeb Bush $2,700
Brian France, NASCAR CEO Jeb Bush Super PAC $50,000
Jeb Bush $2,700
Carly Fiorina $2,700
Marco Rubio $2,700
Ben Olsen, DC United coach Hillary Clinton $1,000
Casey Wasserman, LA 2024 Olympics chair Hillary Clinton $2,700
Texans owner Bob McNair cheers on a number of different candidates. (USATSI)
Texans owner Bob McNair cheers on a number of different candidates. (USATSI)

*Jon Solomon is CBS Sports’s national college football writer. A former Alabama resident, he now lives in Maryland and also writes extensively on NCAA topics. Jon previously worked at The Birmingham News,… FULL BIO

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