Sunday, February 3, 2008

Earth to Senator Eagles Fan, It's Time for You to Go Now

So. There's no way for me to justify writing about this NFL "spygate" insanity on a tennis blog. Except to say that perhaps next year Senator Clinton will demand hearings into that horrible line call Serena Williams got at the 2006 US Open, because that is indeed where we are headed, after the weekend's ridiculous actions by Senator Arlen Specter. See, Senator Single-Bullet-Theory is mad! Because he's an Eagles fan and he thinks the Patriots cheated to win that super bowl and... and... He's going to make them pay! He actually compared the NFL's destruction of the videotapes it confiscated from the Patriots earlier this year with Nixon's hijinks. 

Huh. Oh Arlen.... Turn up your hearing aid for a moment. You might want to investigate our sitting president, since his destruction of evidence on the torture alone makes Nixon look like fucking Ghandi! GET A GRIP!

Just for a brief review, the NFL fined the patriots for filming the signals of the Jets earlier this year. Actually, that's wrong, although that's what people are going to say for decades. They got fined for filming from the wrong place, instead of from the authorized place... Now some disgruntled ex employee of the Patriots is saying he might maybe know something BAD about the Patriots but he'd only tell if Congress or the NFL asked..

Why should Congress be worried about this issue? You won't read a better defense of Specter than the one written by Gregg Easterbrook, who has been crying about spygate for months:

Think Congress has no business investigating sports? Most NFL teams play in publicly subsidized stadiums, and NFL games are aired over public airwaves controlled by federal licenses. The licenses, among other things, prohibit any pre-arrangement or artifice in what is presented as live competition. If a Super Bowl were affected by cheating, that would be a legitimate matter of concern to Congress. Plus, the recent lesson learned via baseball and steroids was that Major League Baseball did not clean up its own house until Congress put some pressure on.

Oh, boo-freaking-hoo! I disagree with Gregg. If this is the best argument you can make, then you're shit out of luck because this is insane. And who said baseball is clean now? Naivete, thy name is Gregg with two gs. Even worse was Mike Florio over at Pro Footbal Talk, who claimed Congress needed to investigate because it might send a bad message to kids. Always about the kids! The kids! If Congress cared about our kids, we'd have hearings to figure out why the US has the second worst infant mortality rate in the developed world. But that just doesn't get high ratings.

I've said it over and over for ten years now:  revoke the various anti-trust exemptions the leagues have and move on. Don't use them as excuses to grandstand. I heard Specter on the radio this morning. After his appearance, Mike Greenberg described him as a "disgruntled Eagles fan." I heard that! He sounded like a whining baby. If there is fraud in the outcome of games, like points fixing or other things that suggest that the games are equivalent to professional wrestling, that may indeed be a matter for Congress (emphasis on the may). But anything less than that is preposterous. Specter suggested that it was no problem for Congress to deal with the war, the economy and pro football because "we have plenty of time" to do all of them. Oh no you don't, because you aren't doing it. What about the anthrax terrorist? Interested in finding out who did it any time this century? How about VOTER FRAUD since we've had two stolen elections now. No? Ok, what about our troops being stranded at the mold and roach-infested prison camp known as Walter Reed? Forgot about that one pretty quickly, didn't you.

As a Cleveland Browns fan you'd think I would be contractually obligated to hate Bill Belichick and the Patriots, but I don't. Belichick didn't move the team to Baltimore, Art Modell did that. I've screamed for years about how unfair that was, how the NFL and the new Browns ownership then held a gun to the city's head to get them to agree to public financing for a new stadium, and I've gone on record before opposing public financing for non-dome stadiums because they can't be used enough to derive financial benefit on their cities. But none of this should be a matter of Congress, even though I would love to see Modell answering questions under oath and squirming like the leach he is. What they are trying to do to the Patriots is just sour grapes and jealousy writ large by a US Senator. 

There is a saying that "the people get the government they deserve" and episodes like this convince me that it is true.  We place too much emphasis on sports and too little on important things like life and death. But to some extent our elected officials are just mirroring our interests. Super Bowl Sunday, while occasionally fun -- once every eight years, I'd say -- is the ultimate example of everything that is wrong with this country. Lip-synching no talents singing the national anthem, fake concern for "troops" watching around the world, which is really just window dressing for making ourselves feel less guilty, an entire day devoted to commercials, no wonder Bush said the thing we should do after 9/11 was shot till you drop....

What else... Oh yeah, wardrobe malfunctions, wherein millions of Americans claim that a half-second of Janet Jackson's nipple burned their retinas and caused their children to be scarred FOR LIFE, never mind the fact that they'd already seen Bob Dole's erection and Britney Spears' nether regions and lived to tell the tale...

Enough. I didn't plan to live blog the Super Bowl of Chips, as CYCLOPS calls it....

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