Misguided Angeleno Nfl Hatred

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THE PLANK JANUARY 21, 2008

Misguided Angeleno Nfl Hatred

As a native of the city that boasts Southern California's only NFL franchise, I'm a bit puzzled by Kevin Drum's antipathy towards the league:

[L]ike any sensible resident of the Los Angeles area in the post-Rams
era, I hate the NFL with a burning passion. Local LA politics might not
give us much to be proud of, but it does give us at least one reason to
hold our heads high: our steadfast refusal to give an inch to the
smarmy blackmailers of the NFL who, to a man, are convinced that every
city in the country should shower them with riches for the privilege of
hosting one of their teams.

Likewise Ezra Klein:

As a Southern Californian, I've taken the little ball of spite and
poison the Rams left us with, and, as the NFL treated my region ever
more cynically, made a principled, ideological objection out of it.

I don't see how the NFL can reasonably be blamed for this. Their beef is more properly with the cities who are willing to subsidize stadium construction. Obviously such subidies are absurd in theory and in a perfect world they wouldn't exist. But given that there are more cities that want NFL teams than there are franchises to go around, there's a supply curve and a demand curve and the cities that want the teams most and are willing to pony up the cash are going to get them. That's as it should be. (Which is why, were I a resident of the Seattle area, I'd be on the phone to my state and local elected officials to demand that they do whatever it takes to outbid those uppity Oklahomans.)

A more interesting question is why professional sports leagues don't just keep expanding so that every metropolitan area that can support a team has one. I don't know enough about this issue to say anything intelligent about it, but there are good arguments against doing this. Perhaps the goal should be to keep a constant ratio of league size to the population size of the available talent pool?

 --Josh Patashnik

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