30 January 2010

The shadow of the state is wide, and growing

SI | AP | Justice Dept.: Obama administration may take action on BCS

Several lawmakers and many critics want the BCS to switch to a playoff system, rather than the ratings system it uses to determine the teams that play in the championship game.

"The administration shares your belief that the current lack of a college football national championship playoff with respect to the highest division of college football ... raises important questions affecting millions of fans, colleges and universities, players and other interested parties," [Assistant Attorney General Ronald ] Weich wrote.

Weich made note of the fact that President Barack Obama, before he was sworn in, had stated his preference for a playoff system. In 2008, Obama said he was going to "to throw my weight around a little bit" to nudge college football toward a playoff system, a point that Hatch stressed when he urged Obama last fall to ask the department to investigate the BCS.

Weich said that other options include encouraging the NCAA to take control of the college football postseason; asking a governmental or non-governmental commission to review the costs, benefits and feasibility of a playoff system; and legislative efforts aimed at prompting a switch to a playoff system.
Jesus wept.

Can somebody remind me when we inserted "Congress shall have the power to regulate amateur sporting events" into the Constitution?

Because obviously Congress and the DOJ don't have enough other issues to worry about. Everything else is so under control that tinkering with college football is next on the agenda.

Look, universities have, for better or worse, decided to contract themselves into athletic conferences. Six of these conferences, plus Notre Dame, have contracted themselves into an arrangement to play some games after the regular season is concluded. They call one of these games the "BCS Championship Game." That's their decision. This doesn't stop anyone else form playing any other games they want, or referring to them as the "Real Football Championship" or "Authentic College Football Championship." Sure, there's no guarantee people will take such claims seriously, but no organization ever gets to force their customers to take them seriously. You want a college football playoff? Be my guest. I'd love to see it. Find a handful of teams and set up a tournament with whatever rules you want. Go for it. No one wants to do that unless they can also get the government to strong arm the competition out of the way first.

People always tell me "but college sports is a Big Business!" — I can always tell they're capitalizing the B's for added sinister inflection — "We ought to treat it like any other business and regulate it." Okay. Let's do that. Let's apply the same labor standards that all other businesses comply with to college athletics. We're going to need to start paying the workers (athletes), and allowing them to seek the best contracts they can, retain managers and agents, perhaps even unionize, negotiate the terms of merchandise with their names and likeness, etc. Seriously, let's do that.

I love amateur athletics, which is why I wouldn't mind if we swept away the veneer that college football at the top levels is some sort of extracurricular activity for scholar athletes. It's a job, but instead of salaries players work for tuition, room & board, access to facilities and coaches, media exposure, and the shot at a college diploma. Come to grips with that and then we can talk DOJ control over the post-season. (Although I'm still going to claim that schools should be able to contract up any type of post-season arrangement they want.)

No comments:

Post a Comment