Congress tries to #8216;fix#8217; sports but ignore real problems

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 17, 2008

Our nation remains at war in Iraq, risking the lives of thousands of American men and women each and every day, and costing our nation billions of dollars.

The country remains mired in an economic slump that has the housing market at dangerous lows across the country and families struggling to make ends meet.

Millions of Americans remain unable to afford proper health care or the medicines they need to ensure a quality of life that we all deserve.

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The country’s educational system — from primary to higher education — continues to struggle with providing affordable, quality and equal education to everyone.

And the list goes on and on and on.

So with all these social problems facing our nation, what is it that our elected leaders in Washington D.C. are spending valuable time and resources on? Sports.

Yes, you heard me right. Our elected leaders and tax dollars — at least some of both — are being wasted on digging into the internal practices of two multi-million dollar private industries.

Major League Baseball player Roger Clemens dominated headlines this week as he and former trainer Brian McNamee testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

The last time I checked, baseball wasn’t part of the government, so why is it that my tax dollars are paying for “oversight” of a private industry that should be policing itself?

The more than four-hour session Wednesday was a waste of time, money and also a display of idiocy and hero-worship.

It is bad enough that the House members are so off-base on what they were elected to do that they spend so much energy on this, but it is even worse that these representatives seem oblivious to the truth and more focused on hob-knobbing with a celebrity and partisan grandstanding.

If the months of wasted time it took to create the Mitchell Report was not enough, now we have more to look forward to.

Honestly, I really don’t care if Clemens used steroids — and I certainly don’t care for my tax dollars to be spent to find out.

Despite what some of these legislators would have us believe, Roger Clemens isn’t an American hero. He is simply an overpaid athlete who seems to think that saying the same thing over and over will make it true.

The reality is that cheaters will cheat, no matter how hard someone makes it. The integrity of sports relies on fairness, but it should be up to those individual leagues to police themselves.

Sadly, this isn’t the end. In fact, Congress may soon be spending your hard earned money on solving another vitally important problem: Videotaping in football.

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), the ranking Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, met with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell last week to discuss the New England Patriots’ sideline taping of its competition. Specter said that he might push for a more in-depth Congressional investigation.

Let’s get one thing clear. This issue, often called Spygate, involves what is being called illegal taping.

Are you serious? Illegal would imply that it is against the law, which it isn’t. This alleged taping violates an internal rule within the NFL.

Why should the average American citizen have to foot the bill for this?

We pay our elected leaders to represent us. Every hour spent on things like this is nothing more than a slap in the face and I hope voters remember this when they go to the polls.

It is a sad day when our leaders cannot fix our national deficit. They have very few ideas what to do about the economy. Affordable health care remains an elusive dream.

But it sure will be great when we know our sports leagues are cheater-free and happily making billions of dollars in profit.

Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Ironton Tribune. To reach him, call (740) 532-1445 ext. 24 or by e-mail at