If you’re like me, you’ve always felt a bit leery whenever the government decides to intervene in professional sports.
I find myself wondering… “Don’t they have something better to do?”
After all, Congress is only in session for an average of 152 days a year. For you or me, that’s the equivalent of working a typical 40-hour work week from January through July… and then calling it quits until next year.
Given the state of the economy, the country and the rest of the world, that doesn’t leave much time for Congress to get its vitally important work done.
Yet, on Wednesday, the government decided once again to take a detour into the world of professional sports. Specifically, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) canceled the trademark registrations of the Washington Redskins organization (this is the second time, for those counting at home).
Of course, the government has a long history of involvement in American professional sports… but now, it’s officially time for this madness to stop.
Too Much Regulation
You’re probably familiar with some of the government’s past involvement in sports, such as the Barry Bonds steroid saga that eventually tainted the careers of dozens of players, from Roger Clemens, to Rafael Palmeiro and Alex Rodriguez.
Or how about the NBA referee betting scandal, in which Tim Donaghy was betting on games that he was officiating… until he got caught.
Most recently, there was the NFL’s “Bountygate” scandal, in which players were paid a bounty for knocking opposing teammates (especially quarterbacks) out of the game.
But here’s the problem I have with these examples (and with the Redskins’ drama)… Why is the government busying itself with these issues?
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If the Washington football team is forced to change its name, there’s only one way it should happen: The marketplace should demand change.
Of course, the government disagrees, and it likes to flex its muscle at every given opportunity. The problem is that too much interference doesn’t let the market work its magic.
There’s no reason Congress (or any other body of government) should decide the fate of the Redskins, let alone the fate of financial institutions like Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers and AIG (AIG).
In the end, the NFL is a business, and it has a (crucial) bottom line. If fans stopped attending games, buying jerseys and tuning in to the TV broadcast, I imagine it wouldn’t take the Redskins long to find a new – and less disparaging – name.
Better yet, the NFL has a vested interest in team sales and would act swiftly to counter any sagging profits. If the market spoke, the league would listen. Unfortunately, it’s clear that the government has no faith in the process, and feels the need to inflate its sense of self-importance.
I say, until we have a comprehensive Middle East foreign policy (or a healthy economy, or better schools…), leave the football to the fans.
In Pursuit of the Truth,