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February 14, 2008

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It bugged me, too, until I changed the way that I think about it.

(A) It isn't like they are ignoring other issues to deal with these ones.
(B) The NFL and MLB are two of the largest economic forces in the nation and have anti-trust exclusions so that they can't be competed with.
(C) If these corporations are corrupt and are not acting on the level, that can have some pretty far-reaching effects on our economy. Think Enron except with more employees, more money involved, and more of a public interest on the consequences.

I agree. Is this what we want our elected officials -- who are on *our* payroll -- doing?

There is a war to be run -- or gotten out of, depending on your point of view -- an economy to be managed, and a social security and health care crisis.

I find all of these to be valid issue that congress should address.

Apparently professional sports now comes under the umbrella of the interstate commerce clause in the constitution. Unfortunately it seems to me we are rapidly coming to a point in this country where if there is anything wrong with just about any industry or organization we look to the government (or the government for some reason thinks it needs to and has the right to) to investigate and "fix" the problem. We have real problems in America, but they just do not get the great press that steroid using professional athletes seem to get for these senators!

What else are they going to do while they're waiting for the next frivilous money-wasting liberal bill to come along?

Come on FMF, you just don't understand! ;)

Amen.

These sports have some problems. But they're businesses. And fans aren't happy. These guys are smart enough to know they need to fix themselves or lose fans.

I don't particularly agree with the poster above who said "It isn't like they are ignoring other issues to deal with these ones." Actually, that's exactly what's going on. Congress (and everyone else on the planet) has a finite number of hours in the day to which we can accomplish whatever we want to do (albeit less for Congress because they aren't in session for a full calendar year), and by focusing on sports controversies they are taking time away from other issues that should be of a higher priority. It's an opportunity cost.

I think these sports investigation hearings tend to heat up during election years, as a way to lobby for votes from those who care more (or equally) about the local team vs. the economy, etc.

That was also confusing me...congress dealing with sports doping...
I guess it has to do with anti-trust legislation.
But from first glance it does seem pretty weird....

I agree that they should stay out of MLB and the NBA, but I am glad they are finally cracking down on the cheating Patriots.

For waht it's worth, I'm just happy they're keeping busy with sports so they have less time to screw up the other stuff.

Here's the thing, on the face of it they should not get involved. Sports should police themselves. The politicians should deal with more important things (the mess in Iraq for one). BUT, if our sports franchises turn out to be corrupt that can have economic consequences. There's legal sports betting in this country - can you think of the ramifications that would occur if it was determined millions of dollars were lost on bets due to cheating in sports?! The areas surrounding sports arenas are dependent upon the commerce sports teams generate. This reverberates beyond the MLB, NBA, and NFL. All those companies that profit from these leagues through apparel or otherwise are vulnerable to taking a financial hit. Congress has a responsibility to look out for those other businesses and local economies. Furthermore, the sports leagues are monopolies protected by anti-trust provisions.

And the end of the day the leagues were either unable or unwilling to police themselves. I agree that it should never have come to the point where Congress interjected itself into these issues. In part I think Congress threatened to get involved in order to spur action, and when nothing happened Congress had to act. After all, Congress isn't thought of all that highly as it is, can it really afford to bluff?

Plus, this is one of the few areas where it would seem partisan politics isn't in play. Nothing gets done on immigration, the war in Iraq, the economy, and a host of other issues because ideology and partisan rancor get in the way. This is an area where congress might be able to accomplish something. And while I agree our tax dollars could probably be better spend, there's a chance productive relationships will be forged as a result of these proceedings.

I think it's perfectly appropriate for Congress to be involved. They have granted anti-trust exemptions to baseball for 100 years. Who else do you suggest should have oversight of an interstate business with an anti-trust exemption than the federal government?

Steroids are schedule II illegal drugs, the same as morphine, cocaine and heroin. There is ample evidence young athletes feel pressured to use them in order to compete for a college scholarship. This feeds on itself with college athletes using performance enhancing drugs to attemt to gain an edge for a lucrative pro contract.

When you look at the totality of the picture, the rampant corruption in big time college sports, which feeds pro sports and trickles down to the high schools, the massive amounts of money involved, the TV deals, the publicly financed stadium deals, million dollar coaches etc, performance enhancing drugs are a significant contributor of what should be considered a larger public policy problem.

It is a serious national issue that needs to be addressed.

What a joke... The gov. needs to stay out of everyday affairs... I true free market will correct itself, however, it's obvious we aren't really one.

I heard Obama passed some kind of bill for money to be given to people that can't afford the home they bought! That's crazy, if the gov. would stay out of it, lending companies and the (ignorant) people that took the loans would learn a lesson! Looks like that won't happen.

I agree with the first comment: Those sports are big business in the US, and those athletes are paid a lot of money to do their jobs. If it was a huge corporation and someone was doing insider trading or whatever, it would garner the same attention...besides, if this type of thing didn't get any attention at all, everybody would be saying "gee, those multi-millionaire athletes can do whatever they want and they don't face any consequences"...

i agree that this is a supposed free market and the gov't should stay out. it will correct itself. they need to focus on this countrys needs like health care, food for the poor, the economy, and the war. But i guess i can see where this is probably the only industry that the US has left and we can't let that go to pot now can we?

For those of you in the "yes, the government should be involved" camp, I could agree with you on the point that the government has a responsibility based on commerce/anti-trust obligations but:

1. Why all the hearings? Aren't these issues handled every day in other situations without grand-standing hearings?

2. Is it even needed for congress to be involved? Doesn't the executive branch enforce laws that are broken? Sure, maybe they're considering some sort of resulting law, but it seems like they make laws every day without full-blown hearings.

3. "It is a serious national issue that needs to be addressed."

Really?

And what are they NOT working on instead of putting time here? The war? The economy? Social Security? Health care? Education? They're giving up some pretty important things to be working on this "serious national issue."

4. Then again, there's the bright side to this diversion:

"I'm just happy they're keeping busy with sports so they have less time to screw up the other stuff."

5. Personally, my take is to keep them out of it and let the free market correct it, which it's in the process of doing: the NBA took steps to deal with the ref, MLB at least started with the Mitchell Report (though more could be done and it's TBD if they will do something), and Roger Goodell strikes me as someone who's not going to take cheating from anyone.

I agree with the comment above:

"These sports have some problems. But they're businesses. And fans aren't happy. These guys are smart enough to know they need to fix themselves or lose fans."

FMF:

1. These issues are handled everyday in other situations. The hearings are the end result of previous investigative work. But I will agree there was grandstanding, Burton in particular.

2. The executive branch is involved. The Justice Department is doing their own investigation. The reason Congress is involved is this issue involves interstate commerce in an industry with an anti-trust exemption.

3. Yes, really. Unless you think drug abuse in general and in particular, high school kids using Schedule II (a felony) substances so they can gain an edge and maybe get the scholarship and/or pro contract is not a serious national issue. Google 'steroids' and 'high school athletes' to see what you get. Depending on the research anywhere from 2-5% of high school athletes use steroids. In California alone that is 20,000 kids. You don't think tens of thousands of high school age kids using steroids isn't a serious national problem?

4. You might be right about that, but I would hope this isn't simply a diversion. I know everybody loves to bash Congress; it's more of a national past time than sports. But as Churchill said, democracy may be a lousy form of government but it beats all the others.

5. Big time sports are not free markets. They are monopolies; and baseball is a legally sanctioned monopoly. You want to play, cover, or watch major league sports in this country you have one place to go for each sport. Baseball in particular has shown it is unwilling or unable to police itself, hence government involvement.

RWH --

1. Ok.

2. I'm aware of what their rationale for being involved is.

3. First of all, the baseball issue yesterday dealt with steroids, but the MAIN issue (at least how it was presented) was whether or not Clemens lied under oath. Isn't there some sort of due process that can figure this out or is a congressional committee required?

Second, I'm not sure I'd label steroid use as "a serious national issue" when compared to the other items I mentioned above (things that they should be working on IMO.)

Third, the steroids issue is only involved in one of the three issues I note. Maybe you agree with me on the NFL and NBA issues? If so, then you agree that they're only wasting time on 2/3 of these, not all of them, correct?

4. I agree it's better than the alternative, by why shouldn't we demand more from elected officials that we're paying?

5. They are impacted by free markets. The second people think the games are fake/rigged/cheated on, they'll start viewing the sports less. The second this happens, the owners will earn less money. The second they earn less money is the second they take action and change things.

Besides, the NBA and NFL have taken actions to halt the issues and were doing so on their own before congress even stepped in.

My main issue is that there are a LOT bigger issues to handle now that congress seems to be hiding from. Is it really worth the effort to spend the time and money on these sports-related issues that are being handled anyway?

Well, I guess we can agree to disagree. But I think you're making a mountain out a molehill here. It's one committee, not the full Congress. So when you ask "aren't there waaaaaaaaaaay more important things for our congress to be focusing on?" that's exactly what's happening. The full Congress is spending much more of its time working on those other things, like the budget, the war, the stimulus package, the farm bill etc.

Only one committee is working on this issue, not the full body. That seems about right to me. It just seems bigger than it is because of all the press it's getting right now.


I think the press it's getting is one reason they're working on it. It's an election year after all...

I think it is in everyone's best interest to make sure that these sports are run successfully. Think of the tax revenues generated from baseball alone.MLB has about 6 billion in revenues in '07.

To add to RWH's comments, the wide press coverage might be giving the impression that this is the Biggest Thing going on in Congress right now. Rest assured, this is a very small piece of the pie...they are wasting their time and taxpayer money on a whole range of other things as well, but they aren't nearly as headline-grabbing.

My wife had similar thoughts as you FMF. And I wholeheartedly agree.

A congress investigation into steroid use? WASTE OF MONEY. who cares? if the sports teams don't then we don't. Its not my body so I don't care if they get all juiced up.

yup, wasted indeed. i do know though that the nfl investigation by arlen spector is due to comcast being in his pocket and looking to do a pay-per view nfl super bowl.

Amen! This is a total waste of time. Focus on eliminating our $400 billion deficit. Then focus on eliminating our $9 trillion national debt. Let the free market take care of the shoddy sports teams.

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