NFL Play 60: Stay Off Our Bus!
The National Football League's Gambit to Commercialize School Children
Part 2 - Gathering Information
What follows are some of the facts we have uncovered as well as some assumptions we have made which need to be verified. I will limit my comments throughout this section as there will be plenty of those opinions to be expressed later. For now, I just want to provide the reader with what we know and do not know.
We think these statements are factually correct, but they need to be verified:
Based upon the information and assumptions above, let’s perform a little simple math:
For 2011 alone:
(34 award winning schools) x (10 students excluded per school) =
Extrapolate this over just the last 3 years I have been observing the NFL Play 60 program:
(3 years) x (34 award winning schools) x (10 students excluded per school) =
While the sample groups are too small and the assumptions we made are too inaccurate to provide precise figures, we can clearly see that our children are probably not in a unique situation, but that the problem, collectively, is rather significant.
I was surprised to discover this and I’m willing to bet that most people don’t realize that the National Football League is classified as a non-profit organization under section 501(c)(6) of the Internal Revenue code, which means that it is an enterprise that promotes a common business interests and is not engaged in regular business of a kind ordinarily carried out for profit. The actual statute reads as such:
“IRC 501(c)(6) provides for the exemption of business leagues, chambers of commerce, real estate boards, boards of trade, and professional football leagues (whether or not administering a pension fund for football players), which are not organized for profit and no part of the net earnings of which inures to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual.”
Although there are some current political challenges to the NFL’s tax-exempt status, I find it unlikely that this will change any time soon.
According to several websites, including their own, NFL Play 60 is a charity that promotes health and fitness to school children. The NFL sponsors several contests throughout the year, aimed towards both individuals and schools. The NFL also sponsors several public events throughout the year, primarily aimed towards individuals who, I assume, want to meet NFL players.
While I cannot attest that the NFL Play 60 contest rules I have read are the exact set that were in effect when the Cathcart Parent Organization entered the contest, all of the contest rules I have obtained - both for individual and school contests - include publicity clauses. I have not read any rules pertaining to NFL Play 60 events open to the general public, but I would imagine that attendees were required to sign a similar Wavier of Liability and Release in order to gain entry to these events.
The NFL Play 60 program has several partners, the most notable of which is probably Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign. NFL Play 60 partners include:
I first noticed the NFL Play 60 partnership with Microsoft Corporation as I was watching Super Bowl XLVI. For those of you who may not know, Microsoft was co-founded by Paul Allen, the current owner of the Seattle Seahawks. Microsoft was airing an advertisement for the X-Box 360 and they announced their partnership with NFL Play 60 at the end of the ad. This partnership was confirmed at Microsoft’s News Center.
There are probably more NFL Play 60 partners and the list continues to grow as this program gains popularity. These are just those partnerships I have discovered as my adventure has progressed so far.
In case you missed this on the NFL’s Waiver of Liability and Release, I have listed the “Program Entities” from that legal document below as I would consider those entities as NFL Play 60 partners:
I have mentioned before that I was unable to obtain an exact copy of the NFL Play 60 Super School contest rules that were in effect for the contest that was won by Cathcart Elementary, but I have obtained a copy of the contest rules for 2013. While there could be some differences, I’m willing to bet that they are similar if not exactly the same. I am not going to list all of those contest rules, but there are several relevant sections that I have copied below:
5) Winner Selection:
NFL TEAM MARKETS (thirty-two (32) NFL Team Markets in total): Eligible entrants whose participating school (as determined by the zip code of the school's street address, at Sponsor's sole discretion) is within a 30-mile radius of the NFL Team's training facility or the city center (City Hall or other location, determined solely by Sponsor) in each NFL Team's home city will be entered into that applicable team's NFL Team Market. For a list of the thirty-two NFL Teams' training facility and city center locations (as determined by Sponsor), visit the Contest Site during the Entry Period. The radius of the following NFL Team Markets may overlap: Baltimore Ravens and the Washington Redskins; New York Giants and the New York Jets; and the San Francisco 49ers and the Oakland Raiders. Entrants whose school falls within two (2) or more overlapping NFL Team Markets will be prompted, during the registration process, to select the NFL Team Market in which he/she would like the Entry submitted. If, in such a situation, an NFL Team Market is not selected by the entrant, Sponsor will select the NFL Team Market, at its discretion. Non-Team Market (one (1) Market): Eligible entrants whose school falls (as determined by the zip code of the school's street address, at Sponsor's sole discretion) outside of a 30-mile radius of all NFL Teams' training facility or city center (City Hall or other location, determined solely by Sponsor) will be entered into the Non-Team Market.
… moving on …
Ownership/Assignment of Rights: Entrants warrant and represent that (1) Sponsor shall own the Entry, photo(s) and video and (and all material and rights embodied therein) and that such Entry, photo(s) and video will not be acknowledged or returned; and (2) that by entering, the Entrant irrevocably assigns to Sponsor and its designees any and all rights, title and interest in the Entry, photo(s) and video including but not limited to all intellectual property rights; and (3) that Sponsor and its designees shall have, without limitation, the perpetual right worldwide to edit, adapt, modify, publish, exploit and use the Entry, photo(s) and video in any way and in any and all media now known or hereinafter discovered or devised, world-wide for trade, advertising, promotional, public relations and/or other purposes as Sponsor and/or its designees may determine without further permission from, or notification or consideration to entrants or any third parties. Entrants further agree to abide by these Official Rules and the decisions of the Sponsor and judges, which shall be final and binding. Entrant's submission of an Entry constitutes his/her representation of eligibility, consent to participate in Contest and consent for Sponsor to obtain, use, and transfer his/her name, address and other information for the purpose of Contest administration.
Released Parties are not responsible for lost, incomplete, invalid, unintelligible, inaccurate, undeliverable, garbled, late, stolen, damaged, delayed or misdirected Entries, photo(s) or video, all of which will be disqualified; failures or malfunctions of phones, phone lines or telephone systems or other communications or malfunctions; interrupted or unavailable network, server, cable, satellite, Internet Service Provider (ISP) or other connections; miscommunications, failed computer hardware or software or other technical failures; garbled, lost, misrouted or scrambled transmissions; any error, omission, interruption, defect or delay in any transmission or communication; traffic congestion on the Internet or for any technical problem, including but not limited to any injury or damage to entrants' or any other person's computer or other device related to or resulting from participation in the Contest; theft, destruction or unauthorized access to, or alteration of, Entries, photo(s) or video; or human-processing error; printing, typographical or other errors or omissions in these Official Rules or in any Contest-related advertisements or other materials; or other errors or problems of any kind whether mechanical, human, technical, network, electronic; or errors which may occur in connection with the administration of the Contest, the incorrect uploading of the photo(s) or video, the processing or judging of Entries, the cancellation or postponement of any cheerleader(s), mascot or NFL player(s) visit, the awarding or announcement of the winners and/or prizes or in any other Contest-related materials. Sponsor reserves the right to void and remove any and all Entries of a entrants who Sponsor believes has attempted to tamper with, influence, or impair the administration, security, fairness, judging or proper play of Contest and such entrant will be disqualified and all associated Entries will be void. All Entries become property of Sponsor and will not be returned. CAUTION: ANY ATTEMPT TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE THE WEBSITE OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THE CONTEST IS A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS AND SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, THE SPONSOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SEEK ANY AND ALL REMEDIES AVAILABLE FROM ANY SUCH PERSON(S) FOR THE ATTEMPT TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW.
… Section 9 omitted …
10) Choice of Law: All issues and questions concerning the construction, validity, interpretation and enforceability of these Official Rules, or the rights and obligations of participant and Sponsor in connection with the Contest, shall be governed by, and construed in accordance with, the substantive laws of the State of New York, USA.
… Section 11 omitted …
Sponsor: NFL Enterprises LLC, 345 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10154.
I will get back to this later. For now I want to stick with the facts as I know them.
As I have mentioned already, NFL Play 60 is a charity. I have yet to encounter any document that would confirm the precise status of this charity, but I assume it meets the exemption requirements specified by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in Section 501(c)(3) of the United States tax code. These exemption requirements seem rather straight forward and are as follows:
“To be tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, an organization must be organized and operated exclusively for exempt purposes set forth in section 501(c)(3), and none of its earnings may inure to any private shareholder or individual. In addition, it may not be an action organization, i.e., it may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities and it may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates.
“Organizations described in section 501(c)(3) are commonly referred to as charitable organizations. Organizations described in section 501(c)(3), other than testing for public safety organizations, are eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions in accordance with Code section 170.
“The organization must not be organized or operated for the benefit of private interests, and no part of a section 501(c)(3) organization's net earnings may inure to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual. If the organization engages in an excess benefit transaction with a person having substantial influence over the organization, an excise tax may be imposed on the person and any organization managers agreeing to the transaction.
“Section 501(c)(3) organizations are restricted in how much political and legislative (lobbying) activities they may conduct. For a detailed discussion, see Political and Lobbying Activities. For more information about lobbying activities by charities, see the article Lobbying Issues; for more information about political activities of charities, see the FY-2002 CPE topic Election Year Issues.”
Again, we will just stick with the facts, for now.
|Copyright 2014 Mark McChesney|