There must be a better use of Congressmen's time...

This whole performance enhancing drug business in baseball is really irritating me. I was going to make it a pit thread but I thought that perhaps I’m just not seeing the whole pictures and your opinions may pesuade me to see it more seriously.

I frankly don’t see why congress needs to be involved in this affair. The Olympic commitee has managed to impose and control the use of illegal substances (to a high degree) by disqualifying athletes found to be using drugs. Cycling has been fairly successful in this area as well. Why is baseball any different? Why can’t we just trust them to impose their own set of self-imposed standards. It’s not like there is a lack of guidance out there. It’s not exactly a ground breaking initiative.

Equally important, at least to me, is why should anybody care if professional athletes use these drugs? I certainly would want my congressman to deal with more important and pressing issues… like exposure of underwear above the ultra low hip huggers. An issue that is even now threatening the moral fiber of American society and inflaming Al Quaida operatives to action.

I know what some will say… but what about the children?.. Won’t somebody please think of the children!!! Well alright. The little ankle bitters can’t remember what they did in class today but can recall within a split second the entire statistical history of Bonds or some other equally impressive and yet totally irrelevant sports figure. They need their heroes. But the young ones aren’t going to run out and get steroids on their allowance and the older aspiring ones who can drive themselves to their own games probably should know better than to use them. Those who don’t and are over 18, and can legaly drink, should be left alone to decide if they want to use steroids or not.

I’m not saying we should completely ignore the problem. Dangers of steroid use should be as widely disseminated as dangers of unprotected sex. Why is that not enough and why is congress sitting in a circle jerk and listening to these guys take the fifth like it’s the McCarthy hearings?

Baseball is different because its half a century behind the Olympics. The only reason that baseball has made the motions that it has is because it has been publicly embarassed by its collusionary steroids policy of past years. If baseball acted like most sports, they’d institute a policy, enforce it, and that would be that. But baseball has given every appearence of being more interested in protecting its own owners and players than showing any loyalty to the concept of good sportsmanship.

I will assume for the moment that you are a sports fan. There are doubtlessly many talented athletes who have the ability to play at the pro level without wanting to risk their health to the negative effects of steroids. Now, if there were no rules against steroids, I think it’s common sense that more players with fewer natural or honed skills could complete at the professional sports level. So do you want to force talented players who haven’t done steroids – your Babe Ruths, Joe Montanas, Michael Jordans, Wayne Gretzkys, Barry Bonds’s – no, scratch that last one – to either start juicing or be forced out of the game? That doesn’t seem right at all to me.

(If you’re not a sports fan, as many on the Dope are not, then there’s nothing one can say about the detrimental effect of steroids on sports to convince you of the importance, because a non-fan doesn’t care about sports, period. One might as well try to convince a caveman that spyware is a serious problem for computer users. Why would the caveman care?)

The odds are that your congressman had nothing to do with the hearing. I would guess that there may have been a couple dozen congressmen at the hearing, at least from what I saw on TV. So that’s maybe eight percent of the membership of the House. Is it really such a problem to have such a small number of the 535 elected representatives of the people of the United States spend a few hours asking questions about an issue that has been in the newspapers on a regular basis for the last several years?

I don’t care one whit about the children on this issue. I just care about fair play in the sports I enjoy.

QuickSilver, you’ve made some salient points, but you just aren’t seeing the big picture. All TV news tonight and for the next several nights, and tomorrow’s newspapers, and probably next weeks news magazines, will all lead with our heroic senators’ grillings of these big league players. But suppose they hadn’t had these hearings; then all sorts of horrible things might have happened. The media, and by extension the public at large, might instead have paid attention to issues like Congress’ failure to raise the minimum wage, the pork-laden transportation bill, the ongoing violence in Iraq, the Senate vote on ANWR drilling, the underhanded attempt to expand FCC power over cable and satellite TV, and all sorts of other stuff, and obviously we don’t want that happening.

There. Have I persuaded you?

They have instituted a policy, and updated it less than a year ago. There hasn’t been enough time to accumulate any data on whether or not that policy is effective.

Except, we aren’t talking about all sports. If congress is THAT concerned about steroid use in professional sports, why aren’t they addressing all sports? Just baseball? Because it’s our “national pastime?” Gimme a frickin break. It’s two senators grandstanding because it’s going to look good come re-election time. It’s a disgusting circus, reminiscent of McCarthyism.

Yes. It is. A big problem. Because they’re wasting tax payers’ dollars to do it with. Congress has absolutely no business sticking their nose into MLB. It’s a professional enterprise, not a government subsidized venture. And after watching some of the testimony, I’m even more convinced the only reason this is happening is because Jose Canseco published a book, and a couple congressmen wanted to get some name recognition by “Putting a stop to the horrible threat to our beloved baseball.”

Great! Tell me. Why don’t we start by bitch slapping the players’ union?

Thanks for your thoughts Ravenman. I am a fan of sports. Not the more popular ones that end with “ball” but I enjoy skiing and cycling. Enough of a fan to appreciate the fact that these sports seem to have done a good job in enforcing a self-regulated anti-drug policy.

I certainly would not like to see the truly gifted athlete marginalized by a juiced, less gifted athlete, but then again I look at sports as entertainment. I was equally entertained by watching Todd Hamilton (on juice) as I was by Lance Armstrong (not on juice). Not sure it matters to me that much if an athlete is using. Though I do appreciate the fact that it matters to the athlete who doesn’t use and is therefore at a disadvantage.

I guess, it’s just irritating to have a congressional hearing about something that is so unimportant in the grand scheme of things.

Indeed. :smiley:

Well, actually, MLB benefits from a Congressionally-approved exemption to the anti-trust laws. Steroids are also illegal, as far as I know, and so congress has a legitimate reason to ask MLB, “What are you doing to put a stop to this?”

As I said: There’s a new policy in place. Why not gather some data from that new policy and see how it’s working? If it’s at less than 1% of the players tested, I can hardly see that it’s the huge threat that it’s being made out to be. But we won’t know until we have some actual numbers, now will we?

QuickSilver -

I almost started a thread on this.

Congress? Steroid use in Baseball… What? Ummm… If it’s illegal, it’s illegal, if not, then it’s not. I couldn’t care less.

Get on to business.

Want to get on TV with your favorite sports star? Ask for tickets to the game, I’m sure you could get some nice photo ops.

this is edging toward GD, but I can’t resist doing one more response:

First, this hearing had zero marginal cost. Congressmen are not paid by the hour. Congress didn’t pay to fly the witnesses in. The electricity would have been on in that congressional office building whether people were there or not. The cost to the taxpayer would have been exactly the same if the committee had that hearing today or if congressmen all sat in their offices getting drunk on green St. Patrick’s Day beer, or if they held a hearing on allegations of Tom DeLay’s ethical lapses. There is no incremental cost whatsoever to these types of hearings.

Second, Congress investigates tons of things that relate to private enterprise. The Constitution expressly gives Congress the power to regulate interstate commerce. If baseball is a business, like you say it is, then Congress has the power to regulate it.

What’s more, these kinds of hearings don’t appear to be anything new. Apparently, Congress first held hearings on baseball’s “reserve clause” in 1913. Cite. Looks like one congressman called for hearings on why there were no black players in the sport in 1945. Would that more pressure would have been put on baseball. I would have loved to know what someone like Josh Gibson or Satchel Paige could have done in the Major Leagues alongside the greats of that era.

Okay, so it’s largely a media circus and a fun diversion from normal mundane gov’t business for a few congressmen. Still, I’m not convinced that steroid use by some players posed any kind of “business” threat to MLB, long or short term.

And it’s not that electricity and meeting rooms are used, it what they are used to accomplish. A few high profile public servants over some green beer on a pseudo holiday like St. Patrick’s Day shows a kind of humanity some people like to see in their gov’t reps. The same jokers holding hearings over steroid abuse by a bunch of overpaid grown men who play a game for a living is, IMHO, a mockery of what congressional duties and titles stand for. :slight_smile:

Exactly. Ravenman, you can couch it any way you like to make it more palatable. But as long as I am paying taxes, I have a right to bitch if I feel they’re being misspent. And in this case, I do.
If they’re that concerned about illegal drug use, they can damn well increase funding for their so-called “War on Drugs.” I don’t see them pursuing that with this much fervor, and it’s a much bigger threat to the stability of this nation than whether or not Mark McGwire used illegal steroids. I guess they fight the battles they know they can win, eh? Those hardened criminal baseball players, they put up quite a fight.
As for whether or not it should be happening: no. It’s clearly a problem. Should congress be involved? No. Any more than they should have been dragging a bunch of movie stars in to determine whether or not they were communists. It’s a witch hunt, plain and simple.

I dare you to spend a good couple of minutes contemplating the possibility that there isn’t.