Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) recently announced that the Senate Judiciary subcommittee, on which he sits, will conduct hearings on “bounty” programs in sports. The hearing will examine the New Orleans Saints specifically and similar pay-for-pain initiatives in collegiate and pro sports broadly.
The Senator was likely outraged, as was much of the public, upon hearing of the Gregg Williams/Sean Payton joint. While many noted the hypocrisy of a league condemning violence in a league that profits off of an inherently violent sport, the planned and premeditated nature of the injuries surely represented a low moment for the franchise. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s heavy-handed punishments (a litany of extended suspensions) for the involved parties was thus appropriate. Payton and Williams both issued public apologies. This should have been the end of it.
Durbin’s interference, like that of Congress’ in baseball’s steroid scandal of 2007, is a waste of the government’s time and the taxpayers’ money. Far more disturbing is the fact that the citizenry actually thinks this is something Congress should have the authority to do.
As appalling as these hearings are, they are not surprising. Modern politicians do not recognize any sphere in which the government may not interfere, nor do they respect any of the three fundamental rights guaranteed by our constitution. Life? The president may now legally assassinate a US citizen abroad with nary a warrant or trial. Liberty? The federal criminal code is 27,000 pages of stuff you can’t do. Pursuit of happiness? (Maybe a bit vague of a concept, so we’ll go with TJ’s “property” instead.) Kelo v. City of New London allows the government to take your land so long as it serves the “public interest”; new airport scanners make the most intimate of your property visible to TSA bureaucrats.
Dick Durbin will now seek to prevent one grown man from explicitly telling another grown man to do what said grown man was going to do anyways. (God forbid someone in the NFL gets hurt.) Maybe Durbin is running interference here, hoping that the press distracts voters from the opening arguments over the President’s wildly unpopular health care bill. More likely, he genuinely thinks he’s doing the right thing.
Alert the press: “protecting Aaron Rodgers in the pocket” has apparently been added to the enumerated powers.