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Editorial Board

League has shown it needs help

With the Congressional hearings around steroid use in Major League Baseball, a new question has risen, which asks what the government’s rights and responsibilities are to Major League Baseball. While it is understandable that some would wish for less government involvement, it is sadly necessary in this particular case.

Given the amount of tax dollars invested in the game of baseball in areas such as stadium construction and maintenance, it is understandable why Congress must have hearings on a plague that is threatening the sanctity of the game. Furthermore, as representatives of the people, Congress must be concerned with elements in culture beyond mere politics and economics. Because baseball is “America’s Game,” it is only reasonable that Congress would impose itself.

There is precedence for governmental involvement with sports. During Teddy Roosevelt’s time in office, a number of college football players died on the field or because of injuries on the field. President Roosevelt contacted the heads of a number of universities and told them they must do something to ensure the safety of the young men playing the sport. As a result, the National Collegiate Athletic Association was formed as a governing body for collegiate athletics.

In modern times, Congress would do well to learn from Roosevelt and do what it must to ensure the safety of the players in the game. However, it also must follow the former president’s lead and remove itself from governing once it has restored safety and sanctity to the game.

It is, admittedly, lamentable that the government must get involved in the whole ordeal, but it’s understandable given Major League Baseball’s inability to govern from within. The blame for Congressional hearings must lie squarely on the shoulders of those who govern baseball. If these men and women were doing their jobs, there wouldn’t be a need for outside control. By not establishing and enforcing a tough policy on steroids and other illegal substances, baseball left itself open for its current fate.

Many also have argued the government’s involvement now, during a time of such international unrest, is absurd, but that too is easily explained. Because Joe Q. Public is not always the most rational creature, the government must occasionally strike while the iron is hot.

If, for instance, Congress had tried to have these hearings in the middle of July or in late November, there would be an outcry that they were interfering with the season. Most people see the hearings as justifiable, not because there is an ill that needs to be mended, but because José Canseco just wrote a book about steroid use. It is an unfortunate necessity, but congressmen and congresswomen must act in a manner that seems logical to those who they represent, even when the timing is not ideal.

Ultimately, Congress must put pressure on Major League Baseball to state what changes it will make and how long it will take to make them. Only then should the government back out and let MLB restore order to the game.

The debate about who should have an asterisk next to his record or not is of little concern to the government, but the big issue of who is hurting himself with illegal drugs should be a concern.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board, whose members are listed to the left.