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Bryson Morgan Quoted in MSNBC, Sports Fans Play the Washington Game

October 28, 2011, MSNBC

Excerpt taken from article.

If you're among the many Americans who believe lobbyists are part of what's wrong with this country, you should know this: If you've ever gone to a football, baseball, basketball or hockey game — or even watched one on TV — you have your own special interest groups pushing your agenda in Washington.

Even Ralph Nader is working for you.

"Ralph saw that there were more and more issues where the fans and participants were having little voice," which is why he recently revived his 1970s-era League of Fans, said Ken Reed, the organization's sports policy director.

"At the time, the NBA and NFL lockouts were on the horizon, and it was clear that there was going to be a power play and the fans were going to be left on the sidelines," Reed said.

The League of Fans is one of a handful of lobbying and special interest groups that seek to "address the abuses of voiceless fans and participants," as Reed put it.

Another is the Sports Fans Coalition, which is "trying to shine a light on what the true costs of being a fan are," said Brian Frederick, the organization's executive director.

"We serve as a political voice here in the halls of power in D.C. on behalf of fans," Frederick said. "We try to raise awareness of the sorts of deals that are made and what happens as a result of them and what doesn't happen."

There's even a fully registered political action committee, Playoff PAC, which researches what it sees as the abuses of the college bowl system. It has brought to light numerous questionable financial practices by the committee that organizes the Fiesta Bowl; most recently, it has filed complaints with the IRS seeking to strip the bowls of their tax-exempt status, alleging financial improprieties that siphon off money that should go to participating schools.

"In general, we've provided a lot of publicity about how bad of a situation the bowls put a lot of schools in," said Bryson Morgan, a co-founder of the group. "College football as an organization can be unresponsive only so long."

Bringing political clout to the playing field

Nader is the most famous of the activists pushing a sports-fans agenda, but other groups have their own heavy hitters.

Sports Fans Coalition was founded in 2009 by David Goodfriend, deputy staff secretary in the administration of President Bill Clinton, and Bradley A. Blakeman, former president of the influential conservative group Freedom's Watch and a senior member of President George W. Bush's staff. Its board includes Dave Zirin, whose popular Edge of Sports column analyzes American sports from a liberal perspective, and Gigi Sohn, president of the digital rights advocacy group Public Knowledge.

Click here to read the full article about PACs in the sports industry.


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