Why I’m Mad at My Favorite Sports Team


June 17, 2016 9:58AM

I faced an internal crisis yesterday. The thing I love most and one of the things I hate most became intertwined. My favorite team and borderline obsession, the Utah Jazz, took taxpayer money for improvements to the (horribly named) Vivint Smart Home Arena.

Utah taxpayers will foot the bill to the   136346-utah-jazz-jazz-music-note-cmykof $22 million through breaks on property taxes, which are used to fund programs like education.

I am honestly the biggest Utah Jazz fan in the world. Not only did I go viral in the sports world with a letter I wrote to former Sacramento Kings coach George Karl pleading with him to play his starters to give the Jazz a chance at the playoffs, but about 80% of my attire and 60% of my vocabulary is Utah Jazz related. But this is a case of principles and ethics over fandom.

It is unbelievable that the government is forcing taxpayers, many of whom probably don’t go to games or even care about basketball, to subsidize a basketball team’s stadium upgrades. It is just another example of how knowing the right people in government is more important than providing consumers a service that they are willing to pay for directly.

Now obviously this isn’t just a problem in Salt Lake City. We see this across the country and even right here in Tennessee, but if I don’t call out my favorite team for doing something I disagree with, I have no room to speak on this issue. This is exactly the problem with many of those who receive taxpayer handouts. These people tend to be CEOs and successful business leaders who have thrived because of the free market, but cave and discard their principles to shill for and even defend corporate handouts because it will enrich them personally.

Ultimately, this corporate handout culture is the fault of politicians, not the companies that accept the handouts. But on the other hand, there is a major difference between taking a handout because you are looking to keep pace with your competitors and actively lobbying and defending the practice of stealing taxpayer money for personal gain.

There are winners and losers in basketball (something the Jazz have more often been on the losing side of recently), and there are certainly winners and losers in this deal. Jazz owner Larry H. Miller is the winner and Utah taxpayers are the losers.