One of the more bizarre sights during the recent congressional hearings on steroid use in baseball (commonly known as the “Let’s Get Roger Clemens Hearings”) was the sight of Roger (The Rocket) Clemens being shouted down by the gavel-pounding Henry (The Weasel) Waxman. There is something empowering about a gavel in the hands of a U.S. Congressman. No matter how big a weenie he may have been in high school and no matter how much fun the other kids used to make of him, he now has the authority to make corporate heads, executive department bigwigs or sports stars squirm and perspire.
I don’t necessarily buy into the argument that Congress should have no business looking into anything short of war and peace, but it always manages to look pretty goofy when it’s sticking its nose into subjects like sports or entertainment. And the fun could be just beginning, because Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter (one of our more aptly-named officials) is thinking about opening hearings on the NFL’s so-called “Spygate” scandal (commonly known as the “Are You Sure You Didn’t Cheat When You Beat My Philadelphia Eagles Hearings”).
Congressional approval ratings would have to double to approach the level of “awful,” so it must be tempting to demonstrate that Congress can do anything, and what better way to do that than to get a lot of face time by bringing in some high-profile athletes and lecturing them about honesty and integrity, two of the words used least by those describing the legislative branch of our government.
I’m not making light of steroid use in baseball. I happen to love the sport, and it breaks my heart to think that iconic figures such as Clemens may have cheated and lied about it, but this is an issue that baseball and its fans can, and should, take care of. When my son grows up and takes his kids to the Hall of Fame, he’ll explain that those from this time period were part of the Steroid Era. Fairly or not, there will be mental asterisks attached to virtually everyone who played during these years.
There are a lot of opinions floating around about all the recent troubles in the world of sports, and some of them are more valid than others. However, I care least about the opinions of little men with big gavels who should be paying closer attention to the way they run their own business.