Friday, July 3, 2009

Dear Me, I Think It's Time to Post Again

Inspired by the great blogosphere stalwart Jon Terrasi, I'm going to start trying to make more posts up in here. Here it goes.

I'm sitting at a lonely desk shift in Tilton Hall tonight. The only bonus, I'm Tilton is home to one of the summer English language programs, so there's plenty of magazines down here that the kids are theoretically supposed to read to help them learn English. Except you'd be surprised at the magazines that they use for this purpose. The selection includes among others, The Economist, The New England Journal of Medicine, The New Yorker, and The North Texan: The North Texas University Alumni Magazine. However, there are a couple of copies of Sports Illustrated down here, so those are the magazines I've been turning to (although I have nothing against The Economist and The New Yorker has the occasional story that interests me).

So I'm reading the latest issue of S.I. and I find a piece by Utah Republican Senator Orrin Hatch regarding Congressional intervention in the BCS. As I read, I was at first amused and shocked by the blatant hypocrisy in the article. It's linked here. Read it. Then continue reading the post.

So. Why does this register pretty high on my hypocrisy scale? Because Hatch's argument for the opening up of the BCS to allow a fair opportunity to all schools sounds like something a liberal democrat would use to argue in favor of healthcare reform or education reform or tax reform.

Just as Senator Hatch says that, "Because of their increased visibility and status BCS schools also receive an unfair advantages in recruiting top players and coaches." A democrat might say that public schools in rich neighborhoods have an unfair advantage over those in poor areas because their high real estate values mean higher property taxes which means that more money flows to the schools in those areas. He says that, "In addition, every team from a preferred conference automatically receives a share from an enormous pot of revenue generated by the BCS, even if they fail to win a single game. On the other hand, teams from the less-favored conferences are guaranteed to receive a much smaller share, no matter how many games they win. The numbers are staggering. Last year the Mountain West Conference had one team qualify for the BCS, Utah, as did three of the automatic-bid conferences. Yet under the BCS formula the Mountain West received $9.8 million—roughly half of what the three bigger conferences got. And despite having the nation's only other undefeated team, Boise State, the Western Athletic Conference received just $3.2 million in BCS revenue." Isn't that just a typical democratic argument for a "more level economic playing field" rehashed with some collegiate sports terms added. A Republican on the campaign trail say something like, Senator Hatch wants to redistribute the wealth in college football, thus changing the natural equilibrium that the market has created after 100 years of college football competition. The best solution to this problem is for the government to stay out of the way as the ingenious and hard-working Americans of the N.C.A.A. do their jobs. Of course, then, pundits would accuse Hatch of athletic socialism.

Now, there's something else here that I haven't mentioned yet. Orrin Hatch is from Utah. This year, the University of Utah Utes were undefeated after beating Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, yet they were denied the chance to play for the national title because the B.C.S. did not place them in the national championship game. Maybe, as a college football fan, Senator Hatch doesn't like the B.C.S. system and would like to see it changed or gone. But does anyone out there genuinely think that he would have written an article in SI or called for Congressional hearings if it hadn't been a school in his state? If he was from Florida, home of the national champion Gators, does anyone think he would complain? Government regulation and oversight of the B.C.S. goes against everything that Hatch stands for politically, but attacking the B.C.S. for denying the Utes the chance to play for the national title is a great way to score non-partisan political points back home.

I guess the point is that Hatch can't have it both ways like this. If you think that the government should intervene in something as trivial as college football, don't you think they should also intervene in issues as critical as education and healthcare?

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