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December 4, 2004
Small Government, Big Baseball

Republicans are supposed to be all about making the government smaller, getting the government out of the regulating business and letting businesses regulate themselves. They're big believers in The Market. The Market will take care of itself. If companies are doing bad things, The People will find out about it and the companies will be punished by losing market share. Government shouldn't mess with The Market.

So why the hell are Senators, Republican Senators no less, getting all tough on Major League Baseball?

WASHINGTON (AP) - Sen. John McCain is demanding immediate action by representatives of major league baseball's players and owners to tighten the sport's drug-testing policy "to restore the integrity of baseball.''

Expressing dismay over recurring reports of steroid abuse by some of the game's top stars, the Arizona senator repeated a threat he made before the last season to legislate a stricter rules if the sport fails to police itself.

Guardian Unlimited

Shouldn't we just let The Market decide? If the fans are really pissed off about steroids, they'll stop going to the games and the leagues will go out of business. Or they'll write thousands of angry letters and the leagues will clamp down on the steroid use. But do really need The Congress to get involved? Don't they have better things to do?

I suspect, though, that it won't happen. The fans want to see the superhuman mega-men do superhuman mega-things. Does anyone really think that baseball would be more popular if the players were weaker, but clean? As for the "integrity of the game," who are they kidding? All these kinds of revelations do is expose they way these sports have been run for many, many years. As the money involved skyrockets, the pressure to break records and be the very best does as well and desperate measures will always follow. We romanticize sports, baseball particularly, way out of proportion. It's never been a pure game at the professional level. If you want to see baseball with integrity, go watch 8 year olds play. But don't watch their parents.

Interesting article on this at Salon (subscription or hoop jumping required).


Previous Comments

> It's never been a pure game at the professional level. If you want to see baseball with integrity, go watch 8 year olds play. But don't watch their parents.

Exactly. There is more to the article that you linked in your post. We should NOT let the market decide this issue. It effects more than just the integrity of MLB. If you read the same article from ESPN - http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=1938639 You would find a quote my McCain that says, "I don't care about Mr. Bonds or Mr. Sheffield or anybody else," McCain said. "What I care about are high school athletes who are tempted to use steroids because they think that's the only way they can make it in the major leagues." We all know that proessional sports is a business and the players do *whatever* it takes to succeed. We don't want kids looking up to people like Barry Bonds, Giambi, Marion Jones, Tyler Hamilton thinking this is how to make it big in profession sports. If you leave the decision up to the MLB you know what is NOT going to happen. This is the same Union that allows contracts like A-Rods to exist. Look at the NFL's substance abuse policy. It sure looks like that that is working a hell of alot better than the MLB players union's policy is. Is it that much to ask that they are on the same level as them? There is a reason the NFL is way more popular than MLB. Salary Cap, substance abuse policy, and more... This is not an issue about what the 'Market' thinks. It is about what our kids think of the sleezeballs that take these drugs to break records and win gold Medals and them thinking the same way since we know that is how the it works these days.

I agree that they are setting a bad example, but I maintain that this is no place for government involvement and that it is supremely ironic that the Republican party is leading the charge. They do this when it comes to countless so-called "moral" issues, but yet maintain, or at least they used to, that the government should stay out of the peoples' business as much as possible.

It is not the job of government to protect our children from the bad behavior of their role models, it's the job of the parents.

I disagree that the NFL is more popular because of their substance abuse policies and salary caps. The NFL is more popular because football is a more popular sport.

Anyway, I'm not saying what the players are doing is a good thing. What I'm saying is that it's not a matter for the freakin' United States Congress, and it's also a machine largely of our own making. If we didn't exalt these athletes so highly and pay them so absurdly, the games would be more what they used to be.

MLB is exempt from anti-trust legislation because its intra, not inter, state commerce. I'll have to look up the decision, but I think that the Supreme Court basically says that the market does not apply, at least as far as the Federal Government is concerned, when dealing with Major League Baseball: Federal Baseball Club of Baltimore, Inc. v. National Baseball Clubs. My point, you may be right that MLB is none of Congress's business given the special nature of baseball as an industry.

Of course, if baseball was a business, then it would be inter-state commerce. As inter-state commerce, it falls under the responsibility of the Federal Government.

The government does have some police power with regards to the use and abuse of potentially dangerious substances, including medicines like anabolic steroids whether or not MLB is subject to anti-trust legislation. Health and safety are compelling public interests, even for Republicans.

Fritz, being exempt from anti-trust legislation isn't really the point. I'm not arguing that baseball is a monopoly, and while it certainly does fall under the responsibility of the feds in many ways, as all businesses do (taxes, federal regulations, etc), what I'm saying is that dealing with steroid use should not be one of those ways.

Yes, the government does have some power over "potentially dangerous substances." The problem is that they define that list arbitrarily and capriciously, with no real regard for safety or health but an emphasis on punishment and incarceration, and that they enforce it just as haphazardly.

Steroid use by pro athletes is not a public health crisis. Idiocy, well, that affects us all.