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Politics and Football

Against the back­drop of the increas­ing politi­ciza­tion of foot­ball, the sports journos and announc­ers have failed to note some impor­tant issues dur­ing the national cham­pi­onship series.

The game between Alabama and Wash­ing­ton was played in the Chick-​fil-​A Peach Bowl, the con­ser­v­a­tive com­pany lib­er­als love to hate.

The company’s lead­er­ship donated money to oppose same-​sex mar­riage and is influ­enced by South­ern Bap­tist beliefs, includ­ing clos­ing its restau­rants on Sun­days, Thanks­giv­ing and Christmas.

The announc­ers dodged any dis­cus­sion of these impor­tant issues.

Then there was the other semi­fi­nal game between Clem­son and Ohio State, which was played at the Uni­ver­sity of Phoenix Stadium.

Accord­ing to the New York Times, the uni­ver­sity and its hold­ing com­pany have been the tar­get of “state and fed­eral inves­ti­ga­tions into alle­ga­tions of shady recruit­ing, decep­tive adver­tis­ing and ques­tion­able finan­cial aid prac­tices.” The Uni­ver­sity of Phoenix has received mil­lions of fed­eral dol­lars from pro­grams intended to help vet­er­ans and low-​income stu­dents. But the stu­dents end up with heavy debt and few mar­ketable skills. A Defense Depart­ment ban that pro­hib­ited Phoenix from recruit­ing on mil­i­tary bases was recently revoked, but the com­pany remains under height­ened scrutiny. The Times also reports that enroll­ment at the school “has been falling and prof­its shrink­ing, cast­ing doubt on the future health of the industry.”

Hmm… I didn’t hear any­thing about the prob­lems dur­ing the game, only the glow­ing ads pro­mot­ing the U.

Then there’s the final matchup, which will be played at Ray­mond James Sta­dium in Tampa. Ray­mond James Finan­cial has had a num­ber of run-​ins over ques­tion­able secu­ri­ties practices.

In 2011, the Finan­cial Indus­try Reg­u­la­tory Author­ity ordered the com­pany to pay resti­tu­tion of $1.69 mil­lion to 15,500 clients for charg­ing exces­sive com­mis­sions on more than 27,000 secu­ri­ties trans­ac­tions. The trades were made in client accounts between 2006 and 2010. FINRA also fined the com­pany nearly half a mil­lion dollars.

Ear­lier this year, the com­pany was involved in a $350 mil­lion real estate scan­dal in Ver­mont, agree­ing to pay the state nearly $6 mil­lion for vio­lat­ing secu­ri­ties laws. Here is some back­ground on the case: http://​www​.burling​ton​freep​ress​.com/​s​t​o​r​y​/​m​o​n​e​y​/​2016​/​06​/​30​/​v​t​-​r​e​a​c​h​e​s​-​595​-​m​i​l​l​i​o​n​-​s​e​t​t​l​e​m​e​n​t​-​r​a​y​m​o​n​d​-​j​a​m​e​s​/​86550308/

In a sep­a­rate case, the com­pany agreed to pay $17 mil­lion in fines for vio­lat­ing money laun­der­ing stan­dards. It was the high­est fine in the his­tory of such inves­ti­ga­tions. Here is some back­ground on this case: http://​www​.wsj​.com/​a​r​t​i​c​l​e​s​/​r​a​y​m​o​n​d​-​j​a​m​e​s​-​t​o​-​p​a​y​-​17​-​m​i​l​l​i​o​n​-​f​i​n​e​-​f​o​r​-​a​n​t​i​-​m​o​n​e​y​-​l​a​u​n​d​e​r​i​n​g​-​l​a​p​s​e​s​-​1463590634

The finan­cial com­pany will get a lot of good pub­lic­ity dur­ing the game because it’s unlikely view­ers will hear the rest of the story.


Christo­pher Harper is a long­time jour­nal­ist who teaches media law.

Against the backdrop of the increasing politicization of football, the sports journos and announcers have failed to note some important issues during the national championship series.

The game between Alabama and Washington was played in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, the conservative company liberals love to hate.

The company’s leadership donated money to oppose same-sex marriage and is influenced by Southern Baptist beliefs, including closing its restaurants on Sundays, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The announcers dodged any discussion of these important issues.

Then there was the other semifinal game between Clemson and Ohio State, which was played at the University of Phoenix Stadium.

According to the New York Times, the university and its holding company have been the target of “state and federal investigations into allegations of shady recruiting, deceptive advertising and questionable financial aid practices.” The University of Phoenix has received millions of federal dollars from programs intended to help veterans and low-income students. But the students end up with heavy debt and few marketable skills. A Defense Department ban that prohibited Phoenix from recruiting on military bases was recently revoked, but the company remains under heightened scrutiny. The Times also reports that enrollment at the school “has been falling and profits shrinking, casting doubt on the future health of the industry.”

Hmm… I didn’t hear anything about the problems during the game, only the glowing ads promoting the U.

Then there’s the final matchup, which will be played at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. Raymond James Financial has had a number of run-ins over questionable securities practices.

In 2011, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority ordered the company to pay restitution of $1.69 million to 15,500 clients for charging excessive commissions on more than 27,000 securities transactions. The trades were made in client accounts between 2006 and 2010. FINRA also fined the company nearly half a million dollars.

Earlier this year, the company was involved in a $350 million real estate scandal in Vermont, agreeing to pay the state nearly $6 million for violating securities laws. Here is some background on the case: http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/story/money/2016/06/30/vt-reaches-595-million-settlement-raymond-james/86550308/

In a separate case, the company agreed to pay $17 million in fines for violating money laundering standards. It was the highest fine in the history of such investigations. Here is some background on this case: http://www.wsj.com/articles/raymond-james-to-pay-17-million-fine-for-anti-money-laundering-lapses-1463590634

The financial company will get a lot of good publicity during the game because it’s unlikely viewers will hear the rest of the story.


Christopher Harper is a longtime journalist who teaches media law.