Thursday, September 23, 2010

PlayoffPAC Files 27-Page IRS Complaint Against BCS Bowls

While I said I wouldn't write anything more about the BCS this year. It certainly does not mean we won't paste in a very newsworthy release that was sent our way. The following is not the work of any writers at GrabBagSports; but its highly worth reading. - Wedge:

WASHINGTON, DC--Playoff PAC, the principal opposition group to college football's Bowl Championship Series ("BCS"), today filed a 27-page legal complaint with the Internal Revenue Service against bowl organizations affiliated with the BCS.  The complaint lists significant tax irregularities discovered through a methodical review of over 2,300 pages of tax records and public documents. 
The complaint was submitted to the IRS on Playoff PAC's behalf by Marcus S. Owens, former head of the IRS's Exempt Organizations Division, and Joseph M. Birkenstock, former Chief Counsel of the Democratic National Committee.  Both attorneys are Members of Washington, D.C. law firm Caplin & Drysdale.

Playoff PAC co-founder Chad Pehrson said: "BCS Bowls all claim to be '501(c)(3)' public charities--the same tax designation as the American Red Cross--to make their revenues tax-exempt and obtain other taxpayer-funded benefits.  Playoff PAC's review uncovered a disturbing pattern of BCS Bowl organizations using their charitable funds to enrich Bowl executives, pay registered lobbyists without disclosure, fund political campaigns, and heap frivolous benefits on Bowl insiders.  The BCS Bowls' activities raise important concerns under federal tax laws and we anticipate that the IRS will give these issues due attention."


Federal law prohibits BCS Bowls from abusing their favorable tax status and using their charitable funds to enrich Bowl executives.  However, Bowl officials are rewarded handsomely for promoting the BCS's once-a-year events with lavish salaries, sweetheart loans, and generous perquisites.  The findings of Playoff PAC's review include the following: 
  • The Sugar Bowl's top three execs received $1,225,136 in FYE 2009 on revenue of $12.7 million, meaning that just three people skimmed almost $1 of every $10 the Bowl earned.
  • Fiesta Bowl CEO John Junker received $317,717 in FYE 2009 for working just 21 per week from the Arizona Sports Foundation, the Bowl's lead entity.  Mr. Junker's total compensation package from all Fiesta Bowl-related entities was $592,418 for FYE 2009, nearly quadruple the CEO pay at similarly sized charities.
  • The Fiesta Bowl gave two Bowl executives $240,000 in unsecured interest-free loans, reportedly to pay for their personal memberships in a private golf club.
  • Sugar Bowl Exec. Dir. Paul Hoolahan received $645,386 in FYE 2009, a year in which the Sugar Bowl lost money despite receiving a $1.4 million government grant.  Mr. Hoolahan collected $25,000 more than the Rose Bowl's top three executives combined.
  • BCS Bowls use charitable funds to fly Bowl execs and spouses first-class, pay private club dues, and foot the bill for employees' personal income taxes.  The Orange Bowl, for example, spent 756,546 on travel in FYE 2009 for its employees.

To be clear, BCS Bowl officials should receive "reasonable compensation" for their efforts.  But BCS Bowl officials are not entitled to appropriate charitable funds for their own benefit in the form of above-market salaries and excessive perks.  To do so is an abuse of their organizations' favorable tax status.


Federal tax laws require all tax-exempt charities, including the BCS Bowls, to disclose fully all lobbying payments to the public and the IRS.  But Playoff PAC's review has uncovered rampant failures to disclose activities that clearly constitute lobbying.  The Fiesta Bowl has somehow repeatedly affirmed on its federal tax returns that it does not "engage in lobbying activities."  Yet the review has found that the Fiesta Bowl has engaged in the following activities:

  • Gave $1.2 million for "consulting" to one registered Arizona lobbying firm and retained two other registered lobbying firms for undisclosed sums;
  • Paid $123,637.93 for state officials' entertainment and out-of-state travel expenses;
  • Registered with the Arizona Secretary of State as a "principal" each year from 2005 to 2010, signifying that it employed lobbyists to "attempt[ ] to influence the passage or defeat of ... legislation by directly communicating with any legislator" on its behalf; and
  • Pushed specific legislation that required taxpayers to, among other things, bear game costs while forgoing all ticket, concession, and advertising revenue at a state-owned stadium.
These facts show that the Fiesta Bowl undeniably engaged in lobbying as defined under federal tax rules, and should be held accountable for its failure to disclose properly over $1.2 million in lobbying fees and expenses.  The Orange Bowl also appears to have made several large payments to registered lobbyists that were inadequately disclosed.


            As a public charity, the BCS's Fiesta Bowl is strictly prohibited by federal law from using charitable funds to contribute to political campaigns. 

Despite this ban, The Arizona Republic reported that five Fiesta Bowl employees made contributions "at the urging of [Fiesta Bowl CEO John] Junker and were reimbursed a few weeks later."  Donating charitable funds directly to political candidates is clearly against the law; funneling donations through employees by arranging to reimburse them is no less illegal.  The Fiesta Bowl attempted to stem the controversy ensuing from The Republic's reports by paying a consultant to perform a cursory internal review.  But after the Arizona Secretary of State conducted a real investigation, he recommended that the state Attorney General open a criminal investigation on potential violations of state election laws.

            The Fiesta Bowl's use of charitable monies to support a politician's legal defense fund also appears to violate the federal ban on "political intervention" by tax-exempt charities.  Despite the fact that its purpose is supposedly to promote amateur athletics, the Fiesta Bowl made monetary contributions out of charitable funds to former Congressman J.D. Hayworth's legal defense fund.  At the time, Mr. Hayworth was testing the waters as a U.S. Senate candidate and pitching donations to his legal fund (which was used to settle politically related legal expenses) as a way to jump-start his candidacy.


Bowl organizations have long justified their existence, if not their tax-exempt status, by trumpeting their magnanimity.  But as reported in the press, the 23 bowl games run by charitable groups "combined to give just $3.2 million to local charities on $186.3 million in revenue."  Playoff PAC's review of charitable giving by BCS Bowls revealed a similarly lackluster record.  While BCS Bowls were relatively frugal with their charitable grants, they were positively spendthrift when it came to less worthy causes.
  • Gave $1.2 million for "consulting" to one registered Arizona lobbying firm and retained two other registered lobbying firms for undisclosed sums;
  • Paid $123,637.93 for state officials' entertainment and out-of-state travel expenses;
  • The Orange Bowl spent $535,764 on "gifts" in FYE 2006;
  • The Fiesta Bowl spent $1,325,753 on "Fiesta Frolic," an "annual weekend golf retreat for college-football officials at a Phoenix-area resort" from FYE 2005 to FYE 2008;
  • The Orange Bowl paid $331,938 for "parties" and a "summer splash" in FYE 2004;
  • The Sugar Bowl spent $710,406 in FYE 2007 and FYE 2008 on a mysteriously vague category called "special appropriations;
  • The Fiesta Bowl spent $91,020 on "travel or entertainment expenses" for "federal, state, or local public officials" in FYE 2009;
  • The Orange Bowl spent $111,492 on "postage and shipping" in FYE 2008;
  • The Sugar Bowl paid $201,226 for "gifts and bonuses" and $330,244 on "decorations" in FYE 2008;
  • The Fiesta Bowl spent $444,948 on "hospitality" in FYE 2009; and
  • The Orange Bowl paid $42,281 for "golf" in FYE 2004 and FYE 2006.

This BCS Bowl spending calls into question the Bowls' need for the substantial government assistance they receive.  If the Orange Bowl can afford to spend $535,764 on "gifts" and $756,546 on travel for its personnel, why does it deserve charitable status and the resulting "free ride" on paying taxes?  If the Sugar Bowl shells out $201,226 for "gifts and bonuses" and six-figure sums for its crony-filled "Football Committee," why has it received $5,448,539 in government grants the past three years?  And if the Fiesta Bowl has had the money to spend $331,438 per year on a "Fiesta Frolic," why did it need a hefty taxpayer-funded subsidy from the State of Arizona?  These are among the important questions raised by Playoff PAC's review.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

New Bat Rules!

Tyler Colvin's potential rookie of the year season ended sooner than expected last week when a broken bat impaled his chest. So now we're hearing the debate about maple bats and how they should be banned. I think we could take it a step further. Similar to how interleague play (and steroids) gave baseball a burst of energy, we could take this opportunity to make some rule changes and add some excitement. Here are a few options to consider:

1. 100% Cork Bats - You know how we're supposed to believe that a corked bat adds like 200 feet to every pop fly? Imagine ALL CORK, ALL THE TIME! If that little piece of cork (and a ton of steroids) helped Sosa hit 66 HRs one year, then an entire bat being made of cork could yield 1,000-foot long balls. Right? (Plus, I doubt cork would impale a guy's chest.)

2. Other team gets a run - If your bat breaks, the pitcher should be rewarded for his extreme pitching that has the ability to break wood. His team should get a run. (This is an exciting possibility. The idea of scoring runs while on defense means you'd have to bat in the bottom of the ninth even when you have the lead. Obviously you'd want to just keep the bat on your shoulder and take the strikeout, but could today's stars really stand up there without trying to pad their stats?)

3. Make your own bats - Like on The Natural, you should have to make your own bat. From a tree. Wanna be a major leaguer? Fine, make a bat. If it breaks, make another one.

4. One bat per game - If you break your bat at any point, you just have to keep using it for the rest of that game. You can always just hope for a walk.

5. Mini-souvenir bats - This is an amendment to the "one bat per game" option. Except in this rule, if you break your bat, then for the rest of the game, you're only allowed to use the mini-souvenir bats they sell at the stadiums. (In Spring Training, we'll test out applying the same rule for batting helmets, where your back-up plan is the mini-helmet ice cream bowls.)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Good news!

Yahoo just let me know that I am lucky (as a LeSean McCoy fantasy owner) that Eagles fullback Leonard Weaver is likely out for the season with a knee injury. Good news! Glad that guy hurt his knee so Yahoo could congratulate me for eventual McCoy production. I just might send an e-mail to all my family and friends to tell them about this recent development of fortune!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

My First Demolition Derby

I am obviously not knowledgeable about motor sports of any kind. Before Wedge started hosting race parties and pools, I wouldn't have even been able to name any racers. But at least I can now say that I recognize a few names when I hear them. I can also at least have fun participating in this blog, including our super-fun Blogathon, and even put Indy races on for a few minutes every now and then. And of course, I have now actually attended a race with Wedge here in Nashville. Here's proof!

So tonight I decided to branch out even further and headed to the Tennessee State Fair to check out the Demolition Derby. When I got there, I realized quickly that I was in a new world. A world known as Demolition Derby.

First of all, 90% of the audience members either (a) were smoking, (b) had tattoos, or (c) both. Without a tattoo or a cigarette, I thought I'd be asked to leave before the demolition could even begin!

Then, while waiting for the doom and destruction to start, as my kids played with... you know... toys... the little girl next to us played with JALAPENO PEPPERS. She was sticking her fingers in the juice, then she'd put her finger in her mouth or her eyes. She was coughing and had tears in her eyes! But her dad was jamming to Lynard Skynard, so no one noticed.

Another strange occurrence was the presence of one lone merch table near the bathrooms. All they were selling were t-shirts with the name "Brynn Marie" on them. I thought this must have been the name of one of the contestants. The Danica of Demolition Derby! But no, it turned out to be the girl singing the National Anthem. They also told us she'd be signing autographs, but when I passed her table, she was alone, eating nachos. I bet she would've sold more shirts if she had been in the Derby.

Nonetheless, I am happy to report that you do not need cigarettes, tattoos, or even Brynn Marie autographs to enjoy a good Demolition Derby. Watching these guys smash into each other was amazing. It makes me want to get some guys together, buy some old cars, and do this ourselves. (Blogathon 2011. Who's with me?)

Here are a few pictures I managed to get...

This Volunteers-themed car didn't bring Tennessee any luck against Oregon tonight:

Car #89 was the first one to break down tonight:

Then he needed a forklift to move him out of the way.

The quality here is even worse than the others, but it's a funny a story. This guy's steering wheel fell off before he even got into the demolition area, so he couldn't steer it in and didn't get to participate.

This is one of the last pictures I could get before it got too dark. The driver in this car was fine and even tried to continue in this heat, but couldn't get the car running again.

And here is a little video I got. Sorry there is no audio.

Unfortunately, darkness (and being so far away from the action) prevented many good pictures. But it was still a pretty fun night. This is 9/11. This is Demolition Derby. God Bless America!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

An Art Form That No One Asked For

In the past few decades a trend has really taken precedence that no sports fan will deny; it is simply that announcers/analysts have vastly increased their role in sports coverage. While some could argue that this has meant the expansion of knowledge depth given to fans/listeners/watchers; many (myself included) would argue that it’s actually diluted the analysis and really has only majorly served to promote… well… the analysts.

Writers and talking heads making a name for themselves is not anything new, but because of the expansion of radio broadcasting capabilities, the introduction to local TV stations, and then the explosion of the internet, satellite radio and all the other mediums leads to a whole heck of a lot of talking and writing sportsters. As a result, its led to an art form that I think many would like to see die, and that is the art of sports-peoples standing out.

This brings me to the recent story and so-called “outrage” over Dan Hampton. For those who don’t know, Hampton (a former NFL player) is an analyst on a TV show called Pro Football Weekly. On said show this past week, while analyzing the New Orleans-Minnesota game Hampton dropped this gem:
“the Vikings need to hit that town like Katrina.”

Now if you have a brain and a pulse, and know of Hurricane Katrina, you understand why it wasn’t exactly the smartest thing to say. What is more interesting to me isn’t necessarily his comment but instead the reaction to it. You have two sides, those who think it’s incredibly offensive and think Hampton should be fired (will address in a second), and those who think that the comment is “fair game” because New Orleans by their own will have interconnected the New Orleans Saints to Hurricane Katrina.

First let me tell you why it’s not fair game, by explaining that I grew up in New Orleans (25 years of my life in the New Orleans region); my family and many friends lost their homes in hurricane Katrina (including our very own Deuce and both my and Ron Furious’ parents) by no fault of their own except trusting a government who lied about how well levees were built. More importantly many people lost their lives in the disaster and many of us have gone through the destruction, and now the still ongoing rebuilding process; and that is simply not something that is ever “fair game.” If there is ever one rule of humor, its that real death and destruction aren't funny or "clever," but instead simply ignorant.

But the more important issue here for me isn’t the ignorance or stupidity of those who make the comment or think its ok; its people who are “outraged” and demand apologies or firings. For starters, it’s stupid to demand an apology because there’s no way sincerity can ever be part of a requested apology. Secondly rarely ever are people actually offended, and instead are just bored people with airtime on Fox News or MSNBC. But more importantly it’s because firing a guy over making this dumb comment would be just as dumb as he is for making the comment.


Because this wasn’t Dan Hampton’s first day on the job, and it wasn’t even his first time saying something of a stupid nature. After learning of this incident, I’ve gone back to read/watch more of Hampton’s analysis/color commentary and to be honest the Katrina comment isn’t exactly surprising nor does it offend me personally. It just comes across as stupid, the only offense to me is that someone who thought that was a good idea had the job in the first place and that now I’ve now lost time in my life having spent listening to him that I won’t ever get back. Firing him now would be like firing an executive at BP for lying about how well the cleanup is going.

Last week the Nationals turned “vacation” for Rob Dibble into permanent firing because of some comments Dibble recently made about Stephen Strasburg. ESPN had to fire Jay Mariotti because of his domestic abuse arrest and way back when Rush Limbaugh got in trouble of inherently racist things he said about Donavan McNabb. In all cases the stations don’t look good for getting rid of these guys, they looked stupid for having ever hired them in the first place. Dibble was a decent pitcher but he’s a horrible commentator/analyst; Mariotti was hardly likable or insightful and I’d say just the same for Limbaugh… not to mention the MANY other sports yakers who have had similar issues in history.

This isn’t even the first time someone has tried to throw a horrible metaphor into sports analysis. In fact recently while going through old newspaper clippings of my grandfather’s school/minor league baseball career, we discovered an astonishing metaphor from the local writer who compared his pitching hard like he wanted to “get those Japs.”

So it brings us to the cause of this whole thing to begin with; the actual problem that should offend people: It’s not Dan Hampton saying the retarded Katrina comment, it’s the fact that he thought he needed a “clever” metaphor to make himself stand out. The problem is broadcasters (especially ESPN) have put entirely too much emphasis on how much the sports yaker “stands out” and less emphasis on checking how smart they are for starters, and then the ability to stand out and make metaphors second.

It’s why we get so many idiotic TV commentators who can’t describe a single play of a game and instead give us “did you see that!?” type stuff or catch phrases, or analysis on things that don’t need analyzing. And it’s why I need to go bang my head against a brick wall because I just found out that Matt Millen wasn’t enough idiocy for the NFL Network, they decided they needed to add Joe Theisman to their cast.

Taking a break from sports...

So I had a pretty tough week at work last week. I mean, nothing too stressful. A little travel. Almost had to put in a little overtime, but in the end, I got the job done and did what I had to do.

The next couple of weeks could be a little challenging. Probably not as bad as last week, but I'll have to stay on my game.

The good news is that, in a few weeks, all my hard work for this year will be out of the way. Seriously. From October through January, I'll basically just have to show up on time to keep my position here! LOL. It's almost a joke.

These other guys around here, like Joe and Frank and Bob... their tough part of the year hasn't even started yet! I'm going to be enjoying autumn and Halloween and Thanksgiving with my family soon, and these guys are going to be struggling every day just to survive! We're talking tons of travel, traveling to places I'd never want to have to go and work myself. (Good thing I don't have to, LOL!) Meanwhile, everyone will be talking about how awesome I am!

Yeah, it's pretty sweet around here these days. I really like the new system. I'll never really be measured against Tom and Bob and Frank. They do their work, I do mine. Sure, if we had to compete against each other in some way, it may be better for the company, its employees, our clients, and everyone involved. And who knows? I might be better than they are after all. But, hey... why fight it, you know?

The best part is that, at the end of the year, if things fall into place, I'm gonna get an award that says I'm the EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR! I'll get a big raise and everyone will celebrate me and how awesome I am. Life is pretty great right now. For me, at least.

Oh wait... you know what? I forgot...


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Time Again For American Sports' Annual Display of Discrimination

Its generally been almost a yearly occurrence for us to write articles showing just how stupid the BCS is, or how a playoff would generate more total revenue or better matchups, or how the current system is not a playoff every week, how human rankings are majorly flawed, how most importantly its totally feasible to have a playoff (especially considering all the other divisions of NCAA have them).

In fact that was the very first thing we talked about when we launched this site... But for once, I think I'm going to refrain from it this year... or at least today as my alma mater kicks off the first 2010 NCAA Division I football game tonight against Steve Spurrier's wacky "I don't know who I want to play at quarterback" plan. But I'm not refraining because I'm tired of saying it, its simply because PlayoffPAC has summed up the monetary (legal court) aspect in a great 4 minute video, that you really should watch and forward along to anyone who thinks the current system is ok: