The US Congress is at it again. Forget all about the problems of the deficit, the flagging economy, Wall Street bailouts, overseas turmoil and other minor matters; the Congress has focused on sports once again. After calling in the NFL and the NFLPA for some “jawboning” over the issue of testing for HgH, things seemed to be moving in that direction until the players’ association again refused to accept testing and raised questions about accuracy, false positives and the dangers of the testing. Personally, I think those are all red herrings; I believe that the players’ association knows that more than a few of its members would test positive and that would not be good for those members in any significant way. Hence the objections – - what really amounts to stalling.
Well, the Congressthings feel as if insufficient deference has been made toward their exalted status and they plan to call the parties in for more “jawboning.” Here is an idea that just might get the players’ association onto a new position. I know that Congressthings would rather bloviate about problems than actually solve problems but I will offer up this idea on the off chance that one or more of them might feel the need to accomplish something during this session of the Congress:
Suppose the Congressthings here point out that the NFL is clearly interstate commerce and that the Congress has the express power and responsibility to regulate interstate commerce. Then suppose that they tell the players’ association that as a way of raising revenue, they will introduce legislation requiring professional football players – - not all sports because other sports have not disrespected the Congress yet – - to have a Federal license to participate in pro football. And suppose that license would cost $250K per year for every player making less than $5M in a season and $500K for every player making more than $5M.
All of a sudden, the players’ association needs a new strategy to keep all of its members happy because the “clean players” will not be happy having to fork over that kind of bread for a license. Oh, and the salary cap that the players’ association just agreed to in the CBA that lasts 10 years makes it impossible for agents to demand that every player get a commensurate pay increase to cover the licensing costs.
That will get their attention…
On another front, two Congressthings (believe it or not one is a Democrat and the other is a Republican) have come together to find out what is going on in college football with regard to conference realignments. Just in time, too … it has only been going on for about a decade now. Rep, John Conyers (D-Michigan) says that he is concerned about how conference realignment might affect:
“… lower-profile sports teams and smaller and independent universities especially historically black colleges and universities.”
Memo to Rep. Conyers: Let me clear that one up for you. It will have a significant negative impact in all of those areas and on all of those teams AND none of the universities gives a damn about that because the big money is in college football in the big conferences and not in the SWAC or the MEAC or in college fencing. Ka-beeesh?
Rep. Conyers and Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) think that they might swing the hammer of due process at the NCAA over that institution’s right to use likenesses of college athletes to make money for the NCAA. That is much too arcane and could find itself challenged in court for more years than would matter in terms of effecting conference realignment. So, here is my suggestion for these gentlemen:
Call in for a meeting some of the BCS folks and some of the NCAA folks and reps from all the conferences and about two dozen university presidents.
At that meeting tell them of all your concerns and tell them that you are tired of them pretending to foster the concept of the student-athlete. Also, tell them you are tired of their intransigence.
Then tell them that you will introduce legislation that will only be 2 pages long and will be a significant revenue enhancement for the Federal government with almost no new expenditures. Tell them you want to tax college football as a business – - because that is what it is. Your legislation will also require the IRS to create a special unit that will audit at least 3 conferences and 10 universities each and every year to assure that proper accounting methods are used to figure out the taxes owed.
That will get their attention…
The next Congress item is so bizarre that you could not possibly make it up. The word has been that West Virginia had been cleared to move to the Big 12 so long as it was free of “legal encumbrances”. Then all of a sudden, reports were that Louisville would jump from the Big East to the Big 12 and not West Virginia because – - supposedly – - Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, “threw some weight around”. Well, don’t you know that set the two Senators from West Virginia into rhetorical high dudgeon and the junior Senator from West Virginia, Joe Manchin, called for a Senate investigation to determine if:
“… a United States senator has done anything inappropriate or unethical to interfere with a decision that the Big 12 had already made.”
That gives you some perspective on the propriety of having the Congress investigate the NCAA and/or the BCS. It also shows that Senator Manchin is jealous that Senator McConnell has more “weight to throw around” than he has in preventing the Big 12 from considering a change of mind. Cue Bugs Bunny here:
“What a bunch of maroons…”
By now, any reader of these rants knows that I have held the Congress in high contempt for about 2 decades. The latest poll I read says that Congress enjoys only a 13% positive rating throughout the country meaning that my minority view 20 years ago seems to have caught on. I also read the following:
Just before Senator Joseph McCarthy (R-Wisconsin) was censured on the floor of the Senate, his “approval rating” in the polls was 17%.
That means the current gaggle of 535 Congressthings and Senators have an “approval rating” only 75% as high as the single most reviled member of the Congress in the last century.
That must make the families of these current legislators awfully proud…
Finally, here is a cogent insight from Scott Ostler in the SF Chronicle:
“A 100-year-old man recently ran a marathon. The man, Fauja Singh, ran his first marathon at age 89. Wonderful, inspiring story. It shows me that I have a few more decades before I need to give up doughnuts and beer and get serious about shaping up.”
To which let me add, “True dat!”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………