Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Libertarian Lessons from the Super Bowl

Posted by M. C. on June 16, 2022

Sports teams are businesses. They are in the entertainment business. An entertainment business, like any other business, should not be promoted, subsidized, supported, protected, or financed by government any more than any other type of business. And especially when the owners of sports teams are some of the richest Americans. Government has no money of its own. It either prints it, borrows it, or confiscates it from taxpayers. 

by Laurence M. Vance

Even most non-sports fans like me know that the Super Bowl is the annual championship game of the National Football League (NFL). It is one of the world’s most watched sporting events, and it has the most expensive commercials (lately $7 million for 30 seconds). Some people watch the game just to see the commercials and the halftime show. Super Bowl Sunday in February is also one of the most gluttonous days of the year. In the most recent Super Bowl — number LVI, played in Inglewood, California — the Los Angeles Rams defeated the Cincinnati Bengals by a score of 23 to 20. The important lessons to be learned from this game, however, have nothing to do with linebackers, wide receivers, quarterbacks, penalties, touchdowns, sacks, field goals, blitzes, punts, or interceptions, but instead have to do with libertarianism.Libertarianism alone is the philosophy of freedom.
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Behind the scenes 

While the Super Bowl festivities were taking place, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD), joined by more than 80 federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies and task forces, arrested 214 sex workers and 201 sex seekers during the seventh annual “Operation Reclaim and Rebuild.” The ostensible mission of the operation was “combating human trafficking.” Yet, according to the LASD, the vast majority of those arrested were attempting to engage in consensual sexual activities. Over 400 of the arrests involved misdemeanor prostitution, loitering for prostitution, escorting without a license suspicions, or supervising prostitution. Only seven of the 49 felony arrests involved unspecified sexual felonies related to a minor.

Up until May of 2018, before the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, betting on most sporting events was illegal across the country, except in a few states. Since that time, a number of states have legalized online sports betting. But not Texas. This is why wealthy businessman Jim McIngvale had to drive two hours from Houston to Louisiana to place a $4.5 million bet on the Cincinnati Bengals to win the Super Bowl. He later placed a similar bet for $5 million. In Louisiana, one can legally bet on sports using a mobile device, which is what McIngvale did. It has been estimated that over 31 million people placed a bet on the Super Bowl. PlayUSA (a sports betting news website) estimated that people would wager $1 billion on the Super Bowl. And that doesn’t count “illegal” wagers.

Even though California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana, in 1996, the NFL and the network that televised the Super Bowl, NBC, refused an attempt by a company located an hour from the stadium, Weedmaps — founded in 2008 to help California medical marijuana users locate dispensaries — to run a commercial that Weedmaps CEO Chris Beals said would have tried to “push the dialogue forward around cannabis.” Although the NFL and NBC prohibit marijuana-related commercials, hard liquor has been advertised during the Super Bowl since 2017. Anheuser-Busch’s Super Bowl beer commercials are well-known and celebrated. The NFL last year announced that it would no longer test players for marijuana during the off-season and is even funding research on marijuana’s health benefits.

I did not see the Super Bowl halftime show, but I am told that it featured famous hip hop singers, including Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige, and Eminem. The New York Times called it “a halftime spectacular heavy on nostalgia and California pride.” Some prominent conservatives, who seem to have forgotten the existence of the First Amendment, had a rather different opinion. Charlie Kirk, co-founder and executive director of Turning Point USA, remarked: “The NFL is now the league of sexual anarchy. This halftime show should not be allowed on television.” Brigitte Gabriel, founder of ACT! for America, commented: “The Super Bowl halftime show was basically pornography on television. Absolutely disgusting. It shouldn’t have been permitted for cable television.”

The Super Bowl was played in the most expensive stadium ever constructed. But what is even more incredible is that SoFi Stadium was built entirely with private funds. The new $5 billion stadium — which is also rented out to another NFL team, the San Diego Chargers — is part of a complex with a concert hall, a shopping center, office buildings, condos, a luxury hotel, and a 25-acre park that altogether is three times larger than nearby Disneyland. The owner of the Los Angeles Rams, billionaire businessman Stan Kroenke, helped move the Rams from Los Angeles to St. Louis in 1995. In St. Louis, the Rams played in the Edward Jones Dome, a $280 million stadium built with government subsidies. Even though the St. Louis stadium had not yet been paid for, Kroenke moved the Rams back to Los Angeles to begin the 2016 football season, playing at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum until the new SoFi Stadium was completed.

So, what do prostitution, gambling, marijuana, the First Amendment, and government subsidies have to do with libertarianism?


The libertarian case against prostitution laws is straightforward. It is not the responsibility of government to legislate morality. 

See the rest here

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