NFL Play 60: Stay Off Our Bus!

 The National Football League's Gambit to Commercialize School Children 

Open Questions

Throughout our articles and correspondence we raise many questions. Some questions are rhetorical while others are raised to either verify facts or to obtain information. Most of this document will pertain to those questions we raise to verify facts or to obtain information. However, before we proceed, we would like to restate our primary rhetorical questions.


Primary Questions

The two most basic questions we are asking the reader to consider are these:

  1. Is it acceptable to segregate students in a public school based solely upon the parent’s refusal to allow their children to be used in promotional materials for a private enterprise?
  2. What educational purpose is served by having commercial cameras inside a public school during regular class hours?

The primary legal questions we have raised throughout our correspondence and documentation are:

  1. Was the agreement between the National Football League (“NFL”) and Cathcart Elementary School a form of commerce?
  2. Did the agreement between the NFL, Cathcart Elementary School and the parents of the students constitute a contract?
    1. If so, between whom?
    2. If so, was it a valid contract?
  3. Who, if anybody, has the authority to enter into an agreement with a private enterprise which obligates students within a public school to provide promotional materials for that private enterprise?
  4. Were our rights to choose those private enterprises we wish to support or deny support infringed?
  5. Should anybody suffer any penalty or adverse affects for refusing to enter into such an agreement with a private enterprise?
  6. Was an illegal class distinction made between students whose parents agreed to sign the NFL’s Waiver of Liability and Release (“Waiver”) and those who chose not to sign?
  7. Did the segregation of our children from their peers constitute an act of discrimination?
  8. Did the language of the NFL’s Play 60 contest rules knowingly place an unreasonable burden upon the winning schools or result in a variation of the bait-and-switch tactic?
  9. Can the relationship between the NFL and the recipient schools be construed as a form of corruption?
  10. If it’s found that children’s rights were sacrificed or violated in exchange for promotional materials, then were any child labor laws violated?
  11. Did the school district err in using children as couriers of legal documents?
  12. Is the NFL violating tax laws regulating charitable organizations?
  13. Is the NFL violating tax laws regulating non-profit organizations?

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Scope of NFL Play 60

  1. How many years has the NFL been conducting its Play 60 program?
    Since October 2007, according to the NFL Charities website.
  2. How many schools or public institutions have won Play 60 contest awards over the lifespan of the program?
    According to the NFL Rush website, 34 schools have won NFL Play 60 awards in each of the past three years (102 schools over the past three years).
  3. Have all of the institutions who won Play 60 contest awards been public schools? If not, please detail the different institutions and the awards.
  4. Are there different classes of Play 60 awards? If so, please specify all of the different types of awards and their distribution (award, school, date, etc.).
  5. How many waivers have the NFL collected over the lifespan of the program?
  6. Are all of the individual names from the waivers stored in an electronic database? If so, what other information associated with these names is stored in that database?
  7. Did any individuals/schools/institutions turn down the award after being identified as a winner?
    1. If so, how many turned down the award? Who were they?
    2. If so, why did they refuse the award?

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NFL Play 60 Contest Entry for Cathcart Elementary

Regarding the person(s) who entered the NFL Play 60 contest on behalf of Cathcart Elementary:

  1. Was the contest entered into by a single individual or by multiple individuals?
  2. Who signed the contest entry form?
  3. What was the capacity/title of the signer(s) of the contest entry form (e.g., school administrator, parent organization member, etc)?
  4. Did these people have the authority to enter this contest on behalf of the school and all of its students (collective bargaining authority)?
    From our perspective, the answer is no.
  5. Did the NFL Play 60 contest entry conform to state and school district policies and procedures?
  6. Did these individuals read and understand the NFL’s Play 60 contest rules? If so, can they provide a copy of those rules?

Regarding the person(s) from the Snohomish School District who approved the Cathcart Elementary NFL Play 60 contest entry and celebration assembly:

  1. Who, from the Snohomish School District, approved the NFL’s Play 60 contest entry?
  2. Who, from the Snohomish School District, approved the NFL’s Play 60 celebration assembly?
  3. Did these individuals read and understand the NFL’s Play 60 contest rules?
  4. Did the NFL Play 60 contest entry for Cathcart Elementary undergo any legal or process review? If so, who performed this review?

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Celebration Assembly at Cathcart Elementary

Regarding student attendance during the day of the NFL Play 60 celebration assembly:

  1. How many students were enrolled at Cathcart Elementary at the time of the NFL Play 60 celebration assembly?
  2. How many students were absent from school that day?
  3. How many students are absent from school on an average day (average daily student absenteeism)?
  4. How many children attended the Play 60 assembly in all?
  5. How many children attended the Play 60 assembly as audience members?
  6. According to the announcement, about 50 students actively participated in the assembly (e.g. at fitness stations and/or interacting with NFL personnel). What was the exact number of active student participants?

Regarding the number of students excluded from the NFL Play 60 celebration assembly at Cathcart Elementary:

  1. How many students did not attend the NFL Play 60 celebration assembly at Cathcart Elementary?
  2. Were the non-attending students all held in one classroom or were there multiple classrooms? If these students were divided into multiple classrooms, then please specify their size and composition.
  3. Were these classrooms tended by certified teachers?
  4. If not, who were tending to these children during this time?
  5. Did any of our children’s classmates question why our children were not in attendance with them at the NFL Play 60 celebration assembly?
  6. If so, what was the response provided to these children and who provided this response?

Regarding the educational activities our children were engaged during the NFL Play 60 celebration assembly:

  1. Who was tending to our children during the NFL Play 60 celebration assembly?
  2. According to our children, while they were in the classroom (during the assembly), they watched a video from the Magic School Bus series titled, “The Human Body.” Is this correct? If not, please specify the activities in which they were engaged.
  3. Did the teacher ask any of the children if they had already seen the video they were playing?
  4. Did our children engage in any other activities during this time? If so, what were they?
  5. Did our children receive any individualized attention from a teacher during this time?
  6. If so, what activities did the teacher engage with our children?

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Other Factors Involving Cathcart Elementary

Regarding Cathcart Elementary staff participation in the NFL Play 60 celebration assembly:

  1. Were the teachers and other staff members required to sign the NFL’s Waiver of Liability and Release?
  2. 37 Did any teacher or staff member question the necessity of the NFL’s waiver?
  3. Did any teachers and/or staff members refuse to sign the NFL’s waiver?
  4. If so, how were these teachers or staff members treated during this time? What were their temporary assignments?

Regarding the statement made by Casey Bowers in the announcement that, “This is a publicity event for them.” (the Seattle Seahawks and/or NFL):

  1. Who informed Casey Bowers that this was a publicity event for the NFL?
  2. Did the NFL Play 60 contest rules specify that the celebration assembly was a publicity event?
  3. At what point did the contest entrant(s) become aware that the award assembly was a publicity event for the NFL and Seattle Seahawks?

Regarding the statement made by Casey Bowers in the video of the celebration assembly that the NFL provided a “Plan for the day.”:

  1. What was the NFL’s “Plan for the day?” Please provide a copy of this document.
  2. How much input did Casey Bowers provide for this plan?
  3. Did any other Snohomish School District official provide any input for this plan? If so, what was their level of participation?
  4. Did Casey Bowers follow the NFL’s plan for the day?

Regarding the extra-curricular running program at Cathcart Elementary:

  1. How long has the extra-curricular running program been active at Cathcart Elementary?
  2. How often do the students participate in this exercise program?
  3. What is the student participation rate in this exercise program?
  4. Who coordinates and attends to this exercise program?

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NFL's Waiver of Liability and Release

Regarding the NFL’s Waiver of Liability and Release:

  1. Did the NFL’s Play 60 contest rules specify the necessity of the waiver?
    1. If not, at what point was the contest entrant informed about the necessity of the waiver?
    2. If so, were the contest rules specific regarding who would be required to sign a waiver?
    3. If so, were the contest rules specific in stating that all of the student’s parents or guardians would be required to sign this waiver?
  2. At what point were school administrators informed about the necessity of the waiver?
  3. How were the waivers delivered to parents?
  4. How were the waivers returned to the school?
  5. How were the waivers returned to the NFL?
  6. Were any students’ parents required to sign any additional waivers (e.g., for fitness station participants)? If so, in what capacity?
    Please provide/obtain details and a copy of these waivers.
  7. What does the NFL envision for the future use of the images and biographical information collected for these school children?

Regarding some of the specific language of the waiver:

  1. “… for any purpose whatsoever…” What does this mean?
    We believe this would allow the NFL to do all of the following:
    1. Alter or edit images.
    2. Cut and/or copy a portion of one image and paste it into another image.
    3. Update images and/or biographical information in the future?
    4. Sell the images, videos, and personal information of students to other enterprises.
  2. “… throughout the universe in perpetuity…” What does this mean? What other purpose does the NFL intend for these collected materials?
  3. “I understand that this document is intended to be as broad and as inclusive as permitted by the laws of the state in which the event is taking place…” How broad of a purpose does the NFL intend for these collected materials?

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NFL Play 60 Contest Rules

Regarding the reasonableness of the NFL Play 60 contest rules:

  1. According to a version of the NFL Play 60 contest rules (not necessarily the version in use for the contest in question), much/all of the burden for securing waivers, publicity releases, and associated approvals has been placed upon the schools receiving the award. However, is this expectation reasonable?
  2. Can the NFL reasonably expect that any school would be able to secure a waiver and/or publicity release for all of the students who attend that school?
  3. How many schools that won NFL Play 60 awards were able to achieve 100 percent participation in their celebration assemblies? In other words, how many schools were able to obtain signed waivers from all of their student’s parents or guardians?
  4. If schools were not able to obtain 100 percent participation, then what did the NFL think was going to happen to these students (whose parents did not sign the waiver)?
  5. If some students were barred from the celebration assemblies based on their parent’s refusal to sign the waivers, then did this crate a class distinction (between those who cooperated with the NFL’s promotional goals and those who did not cooperate)?

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Promoting NFL Play 60

Regarding the business decisions driving the NFL’s Play 60 program:

  1. How is the Play 60 program promoted?
    1. How are the contests advertised?
    2. How are the images, videos, and biographical information collected during these events used to promote the NFL?
    3. Are these materials used to advertise for the NFL and/or their individual franchises? If so, how are they used?
  2. What educational purpose is served by collecting promotional materials from these schools?

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Financial Considerations

Regarding the cost of producing marketing materials and their relative value:

  1. What would it cost the NFL to produce the videos collected during the celebration assembly if they were hire a professional marketing company? In this case…
    1. How much would overhead expenses cost (location, camera crews, etc)?
    2. How much would the active participants be paid on an hourly basis?
    3. How much would the audience members (extras) be paid on an hourly basis?
    4. Do these wages conform to any union scale, such as Screen Actor Guild wage scales?
  2. What was the duration of the celebration assembly and more specifically, what was the required duration for all of the child participants (from the time they left the classroom until they returned to the classroom)?
  3. Was the duration of the celebration assembly long enough to require breaks for the children to be in compliance with child labor laws?
  4. Has the NFL performed any cost analysis for producing similar promotional materials using paid actors? If so, please specify.
  5. Did the Cathcart Elementary receive fair compensation from the NFL for the promotional materials provided by their students?

Regarding the participation of NFL players and other NFL personnel:

  1. Is the participation of any of the NFL players, cheerleaders, mascots, announcers or any other personnel voluntary or were they contractually obligated to participate in the NFL Play 60 celebration assemblies? If their participation is not entirely voluntary, then please specify the conditions regarding their participation.
  2. Are any of the NFL players, cheerleaders, mascots, announcers, or any other personnel compensated for their participation at these NFL Play 60 celebration assemblies? If so, please specify.

Regarding the funding and distribution of the award grants:

  1. What is the funding source of the NFL Play 60 award grants? Doesn’t the funding ultimately originate from the franchise clubs and their operations?
  2. Are the contest award winners compensated in any other manner?
  3. Is any compensation paid by the NFL directly to individuals? If so, please specify (name, date, location, amount, etc.).
  4. Who actually received the award grant for Cathcart Elementary?
  5. Was the award grant shared with any other schools within the district?
  6. Did Casey Bowers receive any compensation related - either directly or indirectly - to the award grant?
  7. Was winning the NFL Play 60 award mentioned in any employee performance evaluation for Casey Bowers or any other school district employee? If so, did this contribute to any increase in their employment compensation?

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 Copyright 2014 Mark McChesney