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If the NFL Really Needs You, Then Make the NFL Pay for It

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Did you know the Super Bowl is going to be played in Houston next February? Did you know the game is supposed to bring tons of visitors to the city, and to give it great exposure? Sure, you probably knew all of this. You also probably knew that the game will make millions of dollars for the NFL. And if you’re smart, you realize that all the talk about huge economic benefits for the city of Houston is not supported by any reliable evidence.  

Now some of you are likely trying to figure out some way to get into the game for free. And you’ve likely seen ads, or heard from others, that the Houston Super Bowl Committee is seeking volunteers for the game. Ten thousand volunteers, to be exact. You won’t get paid, though, because, duh, you’re a volunteer. You also won’t get to see the game because, duh, you’re a volunteer.

For its volunteers, the Super Bowl committee seeks team players who are open, full of integrity, respectful and strive for excellence. If a person meets those qualifications, then he or she has to attend three training sessions while working 18 to 24 hours the week of the game. Which, when you think of it, is a lot of time to waste for a non-charity event that is going to pull in tons of cash.

Those qualifications sought by the Super Bowl Host Committee would, however, fulfill many of the same qualifications for volunteers for many deserving organizations. The Red Cross, for instance, is always in need of volunteers. Maybe volunteer some time to the Houston Food Bank. Or maybe just plug “Houston volunteer opportunities” into your favorite search engine and see what pops up.

But do you know who doesn’t need volunteers? The Super Bowl. It doesn’t need volunteers. Now, the Houston Super Bowl Committee might say that it needs volunteers, but it doesn’t. Because the NFL made approximately 13 million dollars in revenues last year. And organizations making 13 million dollars in revenues for a year can afford to pay people to work the Super Bowl. Hell, the NFL has probably spent more in legal fees on the Tom Brady idiocy than what it would need to pay 10,000 people to work for the Super Bowl.

At least when South By Southwest scams people into volunteering, it gives them something in return for that time. Those volunteers can get badges that provide access to screenings and showcases and panels, and that kind of access is very valuable. But all that you’ll get for volunteering for the Super Bowl is some kind of uniform, which more than likely will be a blue polo shirt with the Super Bowl logo plastered on the upper left chest.

The NFL is not a charity. It’s a very valuable for-profit industry. It should be enough that the taxpayers build the stadium and that taxpayers continue to be on the hook for stadium improvements. The league is probably (according to bid documents that were made public regarding the Super Bowl going to Minnesota in 2018) going to receive thousands of free parking spaces and free police escorts. It’ll likely get to keep all of the revenue from the sale of game tickets to go along with some tax rebates. There’s no need to, on top of all that, provide free labor. Make the NFL and the Texans pay for it.

So whatever you do, don’t donate your valuable time to the NFL. If you’re that gung-ho to see the game, then just watch it on television. You’ll have a better view of the game from your couch, and you can get together friends and enjoy yourself. And if you’ve really decided that it’s imperative that you volunteer your time, then donate that time to some organization that truly needs it. 

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