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Brooks Wilson's Economics Blog: Big Brother on the Gridiron

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Big Brother on the Gridiron

Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah urged the Justice Department to investigate college football’s Bowl Championship Series (BCS) for violations of antitrust laws.  The BCS grants automatic bids and higher revenues to traditionally strong conferences (Frederic Frommer, "Hatch calls for Justice Department  investigation into BCS,", July 7, 2009).  I don't like the BCS, but not liking something does not imply government oversight is required or even desirable. 

Hatch is accusing the NCAA of violating antitrust laws.  He is not concerned with the low wages college athletes are paid given their contributions to a valuable product (see "A Union I Could Support").  He is concerned that a team from Utah was treated unfairly but this does not justify a Senate subcommittee hearing.  Business leaders should be free of a senatorial hissy fit.  It is an indication that our elected officials have too much power.  Is the NCAA concerned about government intervention?  Frommer provides a quote from Harvey Perlman, chancellor of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the new chairman of the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee.
“We are university presidents, and we are sensitive to what Congress thinks, and sensitive about what the president thinks,” Perlman added, referring to President Barack Obama’s stated preference for a playoff system. “But our primary responsibility is to manage our institutions in ways that protect student athletes, that acknowledges their academic pursuits as well as their athletic pursuits.”

1 comment:

  1. Eathan Langdale4/10/09 7:00 PM

    I think the best way to show who the best two teams in the nation is a playoff system. It will determine who should play in the national championship. It will keep people from complaining to the NCAA that their team should have been in the national championship.