The topic of steroids in baseball has been combed over more times than all the country’s elementary school nurses giving lice exams. However the biggest and most grossly overlooked facet of the whole media circus that is the steroid witch-hunt is the misplaced time and energy that Congress has spent on a matter that had no business being brought to Capitol Hill.
Hiding behind a thin veil that the crisis is a “Public Health Issue” Congressmen from across the nation are dropping everything in order to parade themselves before eager cameras and voice recorders to give the nation a memorable sound bite. Call me crazy but at this point in time in our country’s history, some other issues seem to be considerably more pressing.
Topics and hot-button issues like immigration reform, energy conservation/global warming, an economy that appears to be headed into a possible recession and something called the War in Iraq- which the current cost totals just under $500 billion. But instead of worrying about these and other issues that would more appropriately serve their constituents, our elected officials seem more than happy to get their 15 minutes of fame (or six hours of fame, as the Clemens-McNamee hearing clocked in at).
And why not? As I walked through the Student Center on Feb. 13, I heard several people saying, “Duuuuuuude, I’m going back to the room to watch the Clemens hearing on ESPN!” The excitement around campus and the country was palpable and so was the exposure for these congresspersons, some of which may be facing re-election at year’s end.
So they did the smart thing: Went on a highly publicized crusade against a recognized evil that would yield more results (at least perceived results) than trying to fight the war on drugs or trying to lower gas prices.
The word for this is grandstanding and sports seem to be the hip new vehicle for political grandstanders.
On the same day, in much less publicized affair, Sen. Arlen Spector (R-PA) invited NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to be his guest for the day to discuss the broad cover-up of the New England Patriots alleged “SpyGate scandal” from Week 2 of the NFL season. Now while I love to see the “cheaters never prosper” adage play out in real life (and especially to the Patriots), it gave me pause to see it happen like this. It was the time, but just not the place.
But wait! You’re forgetting that there’s precedent for this! In 1958, all-time greats like Jackie Robinson, Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams and Stan Musial were called to testify before a Senate subcommittee. The majority of today’s state of the art, modern marvel-worthy stadiums are built with public money and hence sports warrant vigilance from a high-ranking national authority. I couldn’t agree more. The thing is, that authority still needs to be created.
Why not create an organization built solely to preserve the integrity of sports within the United States. I realize the NFL currently has a competition committee in place but its employees are all directly or indirectly paid by the league. Is that a recipe for impartialness? What’s more is one of the members is Detroit Lions President Matt Millen. Matt Millen on a competition committee is like Bill O’Reilly on a diversity board.
The body of the organization (lets call it the National Sports Competition Committee) would have to be entirely independent of the leagues in order to be effective. In order to do so, the NSCC would retain its own drug testing agency that would report direct to the committee.
And in order to achieve legitimacy in the eyes of athletes, the executive board of the NSCC could be made up of former athletes, commissioners and perhaps most appropriately, people who have left sports to pursue politics as career. New York Knicks Hall of Famer Bill Bradley (One-time presidential hopeful, Senator from New Jersey), Seattle Seahawk great Steve Largent (Former Senator of Oklahoma), the NBA’s David Robinson (Naval Academy graduate) and Paul Tagliabue (former NFL commissioner) come to mind as a few people who may fit the requirements for the committee.
George W. Bush could even sit as the head of table since his former job was once the co-owner of Major League Baseball’s Texas Rangers. It may be harder for players to look into the eyes of a former Leader of the Free World and lie than someone he or she has never heard of.
Unfortunately for the people who enjoy having a fully functional government, this scenario is far too realistic to happen. The Senators and Representatives who populate these committees are having way too much fun in the national spotlight acting as if they are doing their nation a great service.
For these congresspersons, its time to wake up and do your job; Drama class is over, let’s move on.