Notes from the Newsroom
John I. Carney

Utopia achieved

Posted Saturday, May 2, 2009, at 3:19 PM
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  • If folks are dreaming of a socialist utopia, then yes, it's been pretty much achieved.

    -- Posted by quietmike on Sat, May 2, 2009, at 3:49 PM
  • I wasn't aiming for partisanship, and I don't think this is a particularly partisan issue. There are members of Congress on both sides involved in this; I just think it's a stupid thing in which for Congress to get involved, regardless of party or where you fall on the political spectrum, at a time like this.

    -- Posted by Jicarney on Sat, May 2, 2009, at 4:20 PM
  • I thought it was just as stupid when they held hearings on steroids in baseball.

    However, you should probably take into consideration that this involves interstate commerce, and college football is a gigantic industry.

    The BCS has become a national controversy in recent years. I'm glad they're working ensure the health of the college football industry, the revenue from which has a huge affect on state school funding. Money spent on college football increases tax revenue (think of all the money people spend on road trips, restaurants, sports TV packages, memorabilia, etc. during the season), helps create jobs (where do they make all the memorabilia? who works at those restaurants?), and even gives our schools revenue (for example, UT football is a huge money-maker and a LOT goes to furthering education). The icing on the cake is that many of the kids who go into college football have a huge shot at social mobility; maybe they grew up poor as dirt, but the fact that they can run-and-gun will give them a shot at an education that maybe they'd otherwise never be able to afford.

    So, don't knock this, please. It is really important for commerce, education, and job creation once you think about it.

    -- Posted by iheartlanekiffin on Sat, May 2, 2009, at 6:24 PM
  • Coming from a Non-BCS school (UAB) I can tell you first hand that the current system is not only flawed, it's against anti-trust laws. Congress is really the only remedy the non-BCS schools have to address this issue. If they sued, they would be black balled for years and cut out of any chance of bowls or BCS membership.

    Athletics is the largest single scholarship program on any D-1 campus. For a group of schools to limit potential revenues to themselves and exclude all others (effectively half) relegating them to deficit spending to try to compete is illegal. Especially since the division is purely arbitrary based on conference affiliation.

    -- Posted by Tim Baker on Sat, May 2, 2009, at 8:01 PM
  • You make some good points, iheartlanekiffin and Tim Baker, but I'm still not convinced this is an appropriate area for the federal government to manage. I suspect it's more of a chance for legislators to grandstand before the faithful alumni in their respective states than it is a thoughtful assessment of a serious problem. And I suspect Congressional involvement in a question like "do we or don't we have a playoff?" is going to make things worse, not better.

    I understand the benefits to college athletics that you mention, and I agree with them, but I also feel that at times, athletics has become the tail wagging the dog. Let's look at issues like competitiveness, and research funding, and whether our college graduates are prepared for the available jobs.

    -- Posted by Jicarney on Sat, May 2, 2009, at 8:52 PM
  • Oh, but it is, but it is.

    The Commerce Clause gives Congress broad power to legislate what the states can and cannot do. By creating a play-off system, they would be enfranchising many more teams, increasing athletic competitiveness, breaking up the cabal of big teams and causing more fans from more schools to be more involved and, thus, spend more money, traveling to more places.

    Congress did this exact thing in regards to civil rights, using interstate travel as a justification to prevent discrimination against black people in hotels and eating at restaurants because, they said, it hurt commerce to a substantial degree. People weren't traveling as much, because it was harder to find a place to stay or eat. They also weren't opening businesses or anything like that, either. There's no reason it can't be done now, again, since the BCS system doles out prestige to a group of oligarchical athletic programs. There are all kinds of franchise companies that open up at different big schools that are centered on athletic gear and memorabilia. Additionally, this could cause more kids to stay at local schools and get educations there, thus giving back to their local communities; like it or not, a lot of kids make decisions about where they go to school based on the athletic program. What would happen to MTSU if it managed to make some theorized BCS playoff? They'd see interest and admissions go through the roof; more applicants=a higher standard for kids they let in. They'd get smarter applicants, have higher standards, and become a better school. I could go on and on and on in this line of reasoning, but you get the point.

    Its not really so much about athletes and grandstanding as it is the importance of money, especially now, to some colleges with smaller and less well-known athletic programs getting a fair shot at money that could do great things to fund education at their schools. With the constant hikes in tuition and cuts that colleges are experiencing, I'm glad Congress is having hearings on this, because it means they are ready to squeeze every dollar out for education that they possibly can.

    I don't think that cynicism is the answer for this. And, if you want to be cynical, that's fine, but be glad they're at least focusing on something worthwhile.

    We've got a lot of problems, but there's absolutely no reason Congress can't focus on more than one at once. They have a lot of subcommittees that focus on a lot of different things all at the same time.

    -- Posted by iheartlanekiffin on Sat, May 2, 2009, at 9:20 PM
  • Didn't mean for my post to be a partisan rant, sorry if it came across that way. What I meant was, once again the government is involved in something it has no constitutional authority to manage. The involvement in every facet of our lives just smells a bit to much like socialism for my taste. Both parties are guilty of this, I agree.

    -- Posted by quietmike on Sat, May 2, 2009, at 9:21 PM
  • Quietmike please don't poison what is otherwise an enlightening discussion by bandying about "socialism" like its Pee-Wee Herman's "Word of the Day."

    REAL socialism is not the same as the government stepping in to right some grievous injustices. Real socialism isn't when the government breaks up a system that arbitrarily precludes a bunch of institutions that provide really important services from a competition that would enable them to make a lot of money so they can keep providing these really important services.

    Frankly, I am a little bothered when people say all government consideration of fixing a problem in our society is socialism. Please quit.

    -- Posted by iheartlanekiffin on Sat, May 2, 2009, at 9:31 PM
  • Still smells like socialism.

    Has to at least be cooking in the same pot.

    -- Posted by parkerbrothers on Sat, May 2, 2009, at 10:04 PM
  • I understand the benefits to college athletics that you mention, and I agree with them, but I also feel that at times, athletics has become the tail wagging the dog. Let's look at issues like competitiveness, and research funding, and whether our college graduates are prepared for the available jobs.

    John this is the best and fairest way to make sure that the tail doesn't wag the dog. As long as the BCS has carte blanche to distribute revenue any way they see fit, there is no competitiveness. This is no different than the government breaking up the railroads or Bell Telephone in our past. Both have spurred competition and the consumer is better for it.

    (Shameless plug) UAB is currently in the top 10 in the country in research funding with over 470 million per year in grants and contracts.

    -- Posted by Tim Baker on Sat, May 2, 2009, at 10:55 PM
  • Frankly, I am a little bothered when people say all government consideration of fixing a problem in our society is socialism. Please quit.

    -- Posted by iheartlanekiffin on Sat, May 2, 2009, at 9:31 PM

    My grandfather used to say that before you complain about your toes constantly being stepped on, first you should check to see where you're standing.

    I've never said ALL government consideration of problem fixing is socialism....just those not covered in the constitution.

    I'm sorry but if a bunch of football players not being able to play a couple of extra games at the end of the season is your idea of a "grievous injustice", I don't know what to say.

    -- Posted by quietmike on Sun, May 3, 2009, at 12:36 AM
  • It's not in the Constitution? There are a lot of things that aren't in the Constitution that I can almost guarantee you don't have a problem with.

    Quietmike I've come to the conclusion that you're just trolling me. Anyone who can't see the benefits of what I'm talking about and dismisses it all out of hand as socialism has to either be severely mentally challenged or acting purposefully to try to upset people on the internet.

    How unpleasant of you.

    -- Posted by iheartlanekiffin on Sun, May 3, 2009, at 3:20 AM
  • I wish I had a crystal ball that worked as good as yours.

    Apparently, without even knowing someone, you can tell someone's educational background, their belief system, and their motivations from a couple of lines on the internet.

    Got any good stock picks you'd care to share?

    Just WOW!

    -- Posted by quietmike on Sun, May 3, 2009, at 8:54 AM
  • I have heard of a man that could sit blindfolded on a box of ice cream and tell you what flavor it is.

    Perhaps this is the man.

    I'll buy his stock picks after a couple of correct flavor identifications of ice cream.:))

    -- Posted by parkerbrothers on Sun, May 3, 2009, at 9:40 AM
  • 1) no matter where you stand on a playoff, the last thing you want is congress stepping in. in case you havent figured it out, the government does nothing well.

    2) sometimes i get so wore out from people screaming "socialism" without the vaguest idea what socialism is.

    3) i hear ya, john, about the partisan rant. unfortunately, the "crazy talk" crowd can squeeze a partisan rant out of a call to time & temp. luckily, they have carried it to such a ridiculous level thet no one listens to them any more except each other. unfortunately (as a conservative myself) they are discrediting and marginalizing true conservative thought (conservative and thought really are not contradictory terms despite the impression the "crazy talk" people make)

    4) as far as a playoff. in practice the bcs has proven to be a pretty effective way to increase interest in college football and place worthy teams in the championship game.

    i know a lot of folks desperately want a football version of march madness. as george plaster says, the nation is riveted on college basketball for three weeks. as george plaster does not point out, nearly 4 months of regular season have become an insignificant afterthought and college basketball has lost ground since it inflated "march madness" to include everyone approaching a .500 record.

    i am a big college football fan, and would hate to see it diminished to the level of college basketball. however, it is hard to imagine a good outcome if its future is entrusted to the least competent organization in north america (congress). the only bright spot is that is time they cannot spend screwing up something more important.

    -- Posted by lazarus on Sun, May 3, 2009, at 4:47 PM
  • lazarus,

    Most people including me know what socialism is and readily know we are not a true socialist nation. However what we also do realize and feel is the "ride" toward it bus is on.

    In general we are not screaming "socialism". We are more understood to be telling the driver he is on the road and nearing the destination of Socialburg.

    I guess though that some are content to sit in the back seat and just go wherever the bus is going. I personally like to face reality and try to get off the wrong road and back going to a desired location.

    In case you didn't notice it we passed another sign this week. "U.S. government to warranty vehicles - Socialburg 3 years ahead"

    -- Posted by parkerbrothers on Mon, May 4, 2009, at 7:24 AM
  • Lazarus, government does one thing very well. It insures that it takes care of itself and the heck with the rest of us.

    -- Posted by cherokee2 on Mon, May 4, 2009, at 7:29 PM
  • An "ism" need not be good or bad in and of itself.

    It reflects the character of the people affiliated with it.

    True,certain types of people may gravitate toward or avoid a specific ideology because of what they perceive it to be and they might reject one they have chosen if they become disillusioned with its fruits.

    But,folks may define "socialism" as a means to be just and progressive rather than mediocre and oppressive just as others might affirm that capitalism means choice and innovation rather than greed and soullessness.

    I suspect that,given enough time,societies based on reason and integrity will look similar whatever economic mindset they claim.

    By the same token,those infested with fear and selfishness will decay from within even if they try to put all the right labels over their corruption.

    Let's try to get the right people doing the right things and hang what systems APPEAR to be motivating the action.

    Politics is like fashion.

    You can buy or dismiss something based on its branding or you can look to see if it is well-constructed,made of good material,performs its intended function appropriately and was produced in a safe and ethical manner.

    (Comfort and style would be appreciated,too.)

    If we can get what we NEED whether it's what we want or not,then the product is worth buying.

    But,we need to examine the product and the seller or we could reject an effective medicine that smells like turpentine and swallow a poison that smells like an Almond Joy.

    -- Posted by quantumcat on Wed, May 6, 2009, at 1:24 PM
  • LOL, I wonder how hard John I. Carney beat his head on his keyboard after reading some of these absolutely irrelevant comments.

    Normally, I would have completely skipped over many of these wasted keystrokes. But, in context of the actual story written, I actually got several laughs out of these post.

    I never would have guessed a group of solipsistic bloggers could be such an entertaining read.

    -- Posted by Runnin' By on Fri, May 8, 2009, at 11:57 AM
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