Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Hear Ye, Hear Ye

  • 47 million Americans - 16% of the population have no health insurance.
  • The US is mired in VietNam version 2.0 with no apparent way out.
  • Many of the poorest victims from Hurricane Katrina still have no permanent housing.
  • One of the most important US Federal elections is on the horizon.
  • The American economy is still reeling from the sub-prime mortgage scandal.
  • A recession is looming.

What is the most important piece of business before the US Congress right now? How are valuable tax dollars being spent? With all the big issues before the public and by extension, the government, how are the elected representatives of the American people spending their time?

They're trying to figure out whether or not one guy really did stick another guy in the ass with a needle.

It's fucking baseball!!!

It's. A. Game!

The US Congress has basically unlimited funds and unlimited power to investigate and fix really important problems and they've chosen to look into a children's game, played by over-paid, publicly-indulged boys. I'm sitting on the North side of the border and I can't believe the US population hasn't risen up and staked the Honorable Mr. Waxman to a wall for wasting their time and money.

If there is a doping problem in baseball - and I have no doubt there is - there are mechanisms in place to deal with it. The League would be a great place to start. In the past the League has fined, suspended and outright banned players caught in illicit acts. If those acts are deemed to be criminal the League has, in the past, supported the law and cut it's players loose, released contracts and engaged other punitive measures. If they're unable to clean up their mess, then perhaps the league should fold.

The World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) has the ability to investigate any athlete in any sport it suspects of any doping infraction. Unfortunately all the professional, major leagues (MLB, NHL, NBA, NFL) have refused their assistance. They've all claimed they have effective testing programs and that WADA program would violate their collective agreements with their players. And, because these are essentially private clubs, Dick Pound and his crew can't force their way in like an old-west Sherriff.

Or can they?

In 2006 the International Olympic Committee threatened to drop soccer (football) from the 2008 Olympics if FIFA reufsed to incorporate WADA standards and refused to sign the World Anti-doping code. FIFA and WADA are now working co-operatively to design an anti-doping code for amateur and professional soccer players alike.

So if WADA via the IOC can ban sports from the Olympics if those sports' governing bodies refuse to investigate and clean up doping in those sports, where are they in the baseball scandal? Why haven't they threatend the feeder system for MLB with Olympic sanctions? Why haven't they said "Use our protocals, submit your results to us for analysis or we'll drop baseball from the Olympics"? Well, they have. Apparently it just didn't take - or baseball didn't care about Olympic accreditation.

Doping, in and of itself is not illegal. Is it unethical? That would depend on your own moral code and how you feel about pro-sports and the responsibilities of professional athletes. However the act of sticking a needle full of a substance into your bum and getting some benefit from that substance is not illegal. It may be illegal to posses one of the substances - anabolic steroids for example - but the act of sticking in the needle isn't; depressing the plunger and injecting the steroid isn't.

In any case we're not exploring doping in baseball or any other sport. We're exploring what constitutes an issue important enough for Congress to hold hearings into it. Other Congressional Hearings have had great import for the future of the US:

  • The Iran/Contra hearings
  • The Watergate/Warren Commission hearings
  • The Clinton "Stain on a Dress" hearings
  • Confirmation hearings for Justices & Secretaries (these are Senate hearings)
Overpaid adults, cheating at baseball just doens't seem to be as important to me. I see this as a symptom of our North American obsession with celebrity. Today it's doping baseball players. What could be in the future? An investigation into the dangerous behaviour of vapid actresses? A hearing to look into whether or not Tom Cruise should be allowed to spread Scientology to unsupecting co-stars? Sworn testimony from NASCAR Crew Chiefs about tire pressure?

We just can't seem to be happy with what we have. Celebrity lives and athlete scandals already take enough time out of our personal lives. Do they now have to waste tax dollars as well?

Maybe there should be a hearing into that.

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