Why Is Congress on Steroids?

Several Debaters have made comments like this one, saying the issue of performance-enhancing drugs in sports doesn't matter, it's not relevant, and there are more important things to discuss.

But surely if The Debate has more important things to discuss, the same can be said of Congress. So why did they jump into this issue so forcefully -- especially when there are laws against illegal drug use and distribution already on the books?

In introducing the Integrity in Professional Sports Act, Sen. Bunning made his case for Congressional involvement, arguing that Congress needs "to restore some integrity to the games that tens of millions of Americans enjoy so much."

Oh really? That sounds an awful lot like the rationale cited when the House decided last December that they needed to intervene to "protect Christmas." Is it really the place of Congress -- in charge of a budget so large that it just had to raise the debt ceiling to $9 trillion -- to come to baseball's rescue?

A good case for Congressional involvement in this issue can be found in S. 1114, arguing that establishing drug testing laws for professional sports is within the purview of Congress, especially since Congress has "for several years regulated both professional and amateur sports."

In a conversation the other day, Debater William -- a die-hard baseball fan -- said Congress unquestionably has the jurisdiction to work on this problem because it has played such a big role in Major League Baseball's anti-trust exemption. David Pinto blogs that he'd "like to see the anti-trust exemption removed," just to take away Congress's excuse for involving itself in baseball's affairs.

That said, "nowhere in the Constitution is Congress given the right to set company policy for anyone," writes Adam Graham at Renew America. And none of the bills on the matter have come up for vote anyway, and perhaps they never will, given the MLB finally bowed to the pressure from Congress and imposed some self-regulation, as Mark at The Sports Biz Blog notes. And perhaps that's all Congress was aiming to do -- force MLB's hand.

Still, it seems like by putting forth all these bills on PEDs in pro sports, Congress has treated these professional athletes like children. How about just giving those rule-flauting children the same treatment juvenile troublemakers get upon turning 18? If they break the law, send 'em to jail. In addition to penalties for possession of illegal substances, current law provides for up to three years in jail for those who administer illegal PEDs. Prison might be the most effective deterrent available -- so why not just enforce the existing laws?

By Emily Messner |  March 17, 2006; 12:34 PM ET  | Category:  Beltway Perspectives
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Well said, Emily. I believe Congress has much better things to do with its time. The premise that Congress can involve itself in baseball just because they gave MLB anti-trust exemption is specious. Just because you CAN doesn't mean you SHOULD.

Posted by: Matt | March 17, 2006 01:01 PM

Of course Congress should hold hearings into baseball. We could have the Asterisk Hearings, to determine whether big asterisks should be put next to the records of Barry Bonds, et al.

And then we could have the Cooperstown hearings, and Congress could legislate on keeping the likes of Palmeiro, Sammy Sosa, Bonds, Mark McG out of the Hall of Fame.

Who would have thought C-SPAN had the potential to be a 24-7 baseball channel?

The sky is the limit!

Take me out to the hearing,
Take me out with the clowns.
Elect me some twits and partisan hacks,
I don't care if they never get back,
Let me groan, groan, groan for the M-L-B,
If they don't testify it's a shame.
For it's one, two, three Congressmen,
At the old hearing.

Posted by: NatsFan | March 17, 2006 01:14 PM

the reason they're on this issue is they know they're getting booted out in the fall, and are flailing around desperately looking for an issue - any issue - that might help them.

won't do any good.

Posted by: Will in Seattle | March 17, 2006 01:23 PM

Professional ball is entertainment. I didn't see Congress wasting time over MilliVanilli.

Posted by: | March 17, 2006 01:58 PM

This is the pot calling the kettle black. How about an independant investigation into their activities?? That'll be the day. These idiots are total hypocrites. Let's make sure we do our part in the fall and let them know how little we think of them.

Posted by: PIDnPOTZ | March 17, 2006 02:46 PM

Why stop with Milli Vanilli? We could have an investigation into Ashlee Simpson's lip-synching as well.

I can't think of ANYTHING more important for Congress to deal with.

Posted by: NatsFan | March 17, 2006 02:50 PM

It is a tragedy that during times when we are struggling with war, civil liberties, fair health care costs and other important issues that don't affect a select group of overpaid athletes. Just because the former issues do not come with easy answers does not mean the question should be avoided.

I agree with Emily - they should have better things to do with their time!

Posted by: Dremain | March 17, 2006 03:23 PM

Outside the Beltway, people define their culture and way of life as a Very Important Issue....

Something that people of the elites who think the ICC, global warming, gun banning, civil liberties of enemy Islamoid combatants are far more important matters for Congress to address strike out on again and again. There is a major disconnect on what issues are important between the elites and the masses.
Congress knows better from their constituents.

The ICC is nothing compared to the letters and phone calls they get when a pile of liberal, mostly Jewish lawyers from the NYC chapter of the ACLU shows up in Missouri, Salinas CA, or West Sunnyvale, Illinois for a little Christian-bashing and eradication of Christian symbols from the public square at "The Winter Holiday vacation". Or when gay rights activists declare war on the Boy Scouts or the military and try shoving their agenda down the throats of angry ordinary people in Maine or San Diego.

Or when something that 1 in two male Americans follow daily or seasonally, and 1 in 5 females does...organized sports...is threatened by cheating and corruption.

The people properly see Congress as their bulwalk defense against ACLU lawyers and other elites attempting to subvert institutions and bypass democratically elected government to threaten The People's culture and way of life.

That is why Congress has periodically rammed it up the ass of the ACLU and other elites....and why they are involved in the pro sports steroid morass as an important cultural and big business scandal that must be cleaned up.

Posted by: Chris Ford | March 17, 2006 05:57 PM

You heard it here first, folks. Congress is interested in Baseball because of Jewish ACLU lawyers.

But in all seriousness what Chris Ford says is correct. The assumption is that regular Americans fret day in and day out over corroding civil liberties, or White Snow Holiday court battles, when in reality they spend more time discussing steroids in sports and football (I do at least, and I consider myself a regular american).

Years ago I interned for a US Senator and spent much of my time reading and sorting constituent mail. As often as not, the letters were concerned with what this board would typically call "trivial" matters. But so what? The sky does not always have to be falling.

Beltway folks have a hard time grasping that.

Posted by: Will | March 17, 2006 06:04 PM

PS: This is probably why living in Washington DC kills a person's sense of humor.

Posted by: Will | March 17, 2006 06:05 PM

Remember what was said Shoeless Joe...

"Say it isn't so, Joe"

And you'll understand why baseball is held up so high. It's not just a sport, it's a national pastime usually handed down from father to son.

What will dad say to his son about the cheats who dishonor the Babe, Mantel and other greats? That it's okay to cheat and lie to get ahead in the world?

What a miserable world we live in when folks wish to excuse conduct that hurts everyone (and I mean everyone) in the end.


The rest of the country may not follow politics and all, but they know baseball. They know cheating to win is wrong too.


Posted by: SandyK | March 18, 2006 01:41 AM

I guess this is why folks think steroids are harmless, huh?


Cigarettes are so evil, yet alcohol is fine, let alone raiding mom and pop's medicine.

What hypocrites.


Posted by: SandyK | March 18, 2006 02:38 AM

STOP All illeagle peoples from coming into our FREE country..Arrest the companies bosses and C.E.O.,s that hire illegales, lock them in ARIZONA state prison..also have all law officers,in all states check all Mexicans for legal papers,and documentations..lock them up for 1 yr.,them send them back to Their countries, and have their countries PAY $$ for all expenses to do this!!!-or make Mexico a USA state...Dan salmon--fishsalmondan@yahoo.com

Posted by: Dan g. Salmon | March 23, 2006 09:52 PM

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