Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Congress, Priorities, and Taking Any Justice You Can Get

Congress oh-so-rarely does anything I agree with. Nationalized health care is not even up for discussion, despite so many favoring it and clearly sending a message by electing large majorities of Democrats in each chamber and a Democratic president. Similarly, the war isn't ending any time soon, despite everyone and their dog being opposed to it and electing people who were supposedly going to end it.

Really, the only thing I've agreed with Congress on in a long while was that someone needed to bring all of those obviously-juicing baseball players down a peg. Of course, why Congress had to do this in the middle of a war and on the brink of the largest financial meltdown since the Great Depression is beyond me. But still, for possibly the only time I can remember, Congress and I had dove-tailing interests, and it was nice.

Well, once again, I may question their timing, but I'm on board with Congress as they are now set to hold hearings on the possibility of an anti-trust case against the BCS.

Again, this is really not the time, but I think, unlike steroids in baseball, Congress has a clear and actually justifiable reason to be getting into this. Now, obviously ranking sports teams is an inherently subjective process, open to endless debate. However, as any sports fan between the Allegheny river and the Rocky Mountains can tell you, most of the rankings seem to be based on proximity to major media centers.

If this were just people getting pissy about their teams being excluded from the big time (as it might be -- the bill was introduced by Orrin Hatch of Utah not too long after Utah was prominently snubbed from a chance at the national championship), it would be a terrible waste of time. But there are real issues behind this. College football has steadfastly refused to adopt a playoff system and instead decides the two teams who get to vie for the crown on four different polls and 2 obtuse and indecipherable computer rankings. So unlike basketball or baseball championships, where a good ranking can certainly help you out quite a bit, there is absolutely no chance of a cinderella-style upset. Furthermore, there are 8 BCS Bowl Games, to which every "major" conference champion gets an automatic invite.

And again, if this were just complaining about who gets a pretty trophy it would be pointless. But every college bowl game comes with a payout to each team, usually with more to the winner. Your less prestigious bowls like the Meineke Car Cares and Insight.Coms of the world have "meagre" payouts of tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. However, the BCS Bowls have payouts in the millions. And considering that, contrary to popular opinion, most schools are actually losing money hand-over-fist with their football programs, this money could make a huge difference to some schools. Especially schools like Utah, that don't have the national visibility (and attendant merchandising and ad revenue) and aren't one of the only 16 college football teams that actually take in more money than they spend.

And granted, yes, the much more logical solution would to not spend such ludicrous sums and public funds on what is supposedly an amateur sport. But since that is just about as likely to happen as that damn war finally ending, I'm fine with at least trying to get the little(r) guys a chance...

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