The United States continues to struggle with high unemployment and an increasing federal debt. Instead of worrying about improving the current situation, Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) has decided to waste time and money investigating “bounties” in professional sports.
The current unemployment rate is near 9%, roughly 65% higher than the 5.8% in 2008. The gross federal debt has grown by over 60%, to $16.4 trillion, during the same period. While these figures are some of the biggest issues for many Americans, they don’t seem to be to Durbin. He has decided that it is more important to look into bounties program that recently cost New Orleans Saints NFL coach Sean Payton his job for a season.
The interest into bounties is based on the recent incident in the NFL. The Saints were identified as having an organized bounty program. The purpose of this program was to provide financial incentives to team players for superior performance during a game. This included knocking out opposing players to notch a "bounty." Unfortunately, many of those injured missed more than just one game, even sometimes the remainder of the NFL season.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell responded by punishing the Saints. The Saints organization must forfeit two second round draft picks and pay a fine of $500,000 dollars. Saints head coach Sean Payton was suspended for one season without pay. Former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, now with the St. Louis Rams, was suspended indefinitely.
Durbin stated “I’m happy that the NFL acted swiftly once a bounty program was discovered. But questions remain about what the NFL and other professional and collegiate sports organizations are doing to protect their players and the integrity of their sports.”
The irony of Durbin’s comment is easily recognized. On one hand, he considers Goodell’s actions an acceptable response to the exposed bounty program. On the other hand, Durbin wants to know what professional and collegiate sports organizations are doing to protect players and maintain integrity within their respective sport. Hmmm. Maybe, Mr. Durbin, they punish offenders once a problem is exposed.
Durbin must be bored. He is not running for re-election this year. With more Americans feeling that the economy is improving, he can relax on that issue. And what better way to cure boredom and relax a little?
Since Durbin doesn’t know what he doesn’t know, he must correct that problem. He could send letters to professional and collegiate sports organizations asking about policies or procedures. He could task staffers to research organizational integrity and player protection. The staff could then provide a simple and easy to understand brief to him.
Instead of those solutions, Durbin has decided that it is more important to take time away from economic and fiscal issues in order to have a hearing on bounties. Concerned hearing members can grill representatives from the NFL, and other organizations, about integrity and protecting players. The hearing can be broadcast so Americans can feel good about Congress’ concern and actions. The broadcast will also show that Congress’ time and our money is being used on important issues.
All that can be said is grab your poles boys and girls. I hear that government waste is running again.