Orrin Hatch, on the BCS: "This is precisely the type of arrangement that our antitrust laws are meant to prevent"

The senior senator from Utah is still pissed that his undefeated University of Utah Utes football team was not awarded the national championship this year by the National Collegiate Association of America's Bowl Championship Series system. I have heard that there are plenty of non-Mormons out there who share Hatch's unhappiness with the BCS. Unlike the singin' senator, however, they don't have access to massive, pointless power. Here's Hatch writing at ESPN.com:

[M]any of the schools from the BCS's privileged conferences enjoy a number of legitimate advantages, including enormous budgets, attractive locations, winning traditions, and market attractiveness.

BCS officials have claimed that the inequities of their system are the natural result of these pre-existing factors. If the only problem were that SEC schools typically have better teams than schools from the Mountain West, it would difficult for anyone who believes in the free market to complain.

The problem with the BCS is that it creates disadvantages that are systemic. At the most basic level, it is an agreement among schools and conferences that are supposed to be competitors to reduce competition among themselves and, even worse, to limit the competition they receive from the outside.

This is precisely the type of arrangement that our antitrust laws are meant to prevent. That being the case, the ultimate consequence of the BCS's refusal to acknowledge the outcries of football fans throughout the country may end up being intervention by the courts or the Justice Department.

This, of course, would be regrettable. But, up to now, the architects of the BCS seem to have purposefully eliminated any more desirable options.

This, of course, would be regrettable, and not just in a sadness-more-than-anger way.

I neither follow college football nor really understand those adults who do, but if one was really intent to misuse antitrust law on the billion-dollar industry, wouldn't the discussion begin with the fact that the NCAA cartel prohibits its primary bread-winners from being paid?

Hat tip to reader Jim Murphy, who adds: "At the same time, I like the idea of Congress spending their days in pissing matches over college sports..."

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  • Hugh Akston||

    ...attractive locations...

    Fairness requires that all teams be required to play in dreary, dried-up wastelands like Utah.

  • Spartacus||

    Naturally, Congress should stay the hell out of the BCS. On the other hand, there is no good reason why the washed-up Big Ten is in the BCS and the Mountain West is not.

  • ||

    In what possible way does Congress have any jurisdiction in this area? How is it suddenly an "anti-trust" matter? Oh, right, it's because Utah was somehow deprived. Someone might want to explain to them that playing a team that had lost its SEC and national title hopes in the last game it played might not be playing at 100%. 'Cause that's the only win that mattered in their entire season. Utah as national champion--ha! If we had a playoff system, they wouldn't be able to make silly arguments, so he should be thankful for the BCS.

    Can't anyone in Congress jump up and say, "This is none of our fucking business!"?

  • ||

    Why shouldn't the NCAA feel the wrath(stupidity?, pettiness?, control mongers?) of pompous politicians the way the rest of us have to?

  • ||

    Can't anyone in Congress jump up and say, "This is none of our fucking business!"?

    That's a rhetorical question, right?

  • Spartacus||

    Can't anyone in Congress jump up and say, "This is none of our fucking business!"?



    No, of course not. They must do something. After all, that's what they were elected for, to fix the BCS, right?

  • ||

    P Brooks,

    Not so much rhetorical, as a question with only two, maybe three, answers on the outside.

  • Jim||

    Is it incestuous to comment on a post you submitted?

    Great picture of Orrin with the Utah Jazz Bear mascot. Orrin should be spending his time on more appropriate legislative matters, like getting Carlos Boozer traded...

  • ||

    Yes, it's this "do something" mentality as much as anything that's feeding Leviathan. And I think the Democrats may be worse in this regard. It's the problem with fueling your policies with populism--what have you done for me lately?

  • <-->||

    I neither follow college football nor really understand those adults who do

    It's called "gambling," Matt. Betting. Bookies. Guys named Vito. Like its big brother, the NFL, it exists only because of its attractiveness to sharks and shills. And aging fratboys.

  • Spartacus||

    Maybe we should form a new party--the Do Nothing Party. Our platform shal be to promise to sit on our fat asses and not lift one finger for four years, and to vote against any new legislation that crosses our desks. Except that would be lifting a finger, so I guess there are some details to work out...

  • Billy||

    If there is anything about college football that Congress should investigate it is how grossly under compensated the athletes are. If this happened anywhere else in America it would be condemned as slavery.

  • ||

    Interstate Commerce.

    General Welfare.

  • ||

    This "issue" treads into lots of sacred cows that any legislation to "fix it" would have to be very contorted to avoid stepping on.

    One, the NCAA is the most visible money-vacuum that is a "non-profit" institution. Taxes? Har-har-har. Labor laws? More giggles. Apparently uncompensated child-labor is cool if its for a "non-profit."

    Two, colleges are sacred cows. It seems to be gospel in the chattering elite these days that everyone should be able to (have to?) get a four-year degree if they want to run a floor polisher for a living. Even if the degree costs $100,000, even if the government has to pay for it. The NCAA is the most vivid example of the financial health of our colleges, and also how relatively useless a degree is compared to supreme talent and hard work.

    Its all a rather interesting dichotomy with the NCAA and the pseudo-pro-ball it protects.

  • ||

    Why shouldn't the NCAA feel the wrath(stupidity?, pettiness?, control mongers?) of pompous politicians the way the rest of us have to?

    Stupidity, pettiness, control mongering and pompousity are part and parcel of NCAA life, too. Myles Brand, anyone?

  • Hank||

    "Apparently uncompensated child-labor is cool if its for a "non-profit.""

    College students are adults.

  • ||

    This is precisely the type of arrangement that our antitrust laws are meant to prevent.


    QFT. You go get 'em Senator! There is no other way for me to spend my entertainment dollars than by going through the NCAAs monopolistic system.

    Fucking 'tard.

  • ||

    Jaybird,

    Might as well say, "unchecked, unlimited power" and be done with it. Citing to the Constitution is so passé.

  • ||

    Not endorsing anything...

    But does the cash value of a scholarship and other legal compensations of student football and basketball players even get close to minimum wage when factored over play, travel, and practice hours?

    I will admit that all I know about college football is that it makes driving anywhere in my city an absolute bitch 10 times a year.

  • ||

    I agree the govt should not interfere. That said, some of the comments from Matt and others are ignorant or hypocritical.

    The athletes are compensated. Most of them are on scholarship having access to an education and living expenses for performing a task, and many of them would not qualify for entry to the job without the athletic skill they bring to the table. It's a fair association because everyone is an adult and everyone knows the expected compensation going it. Just because it's not cash doesn't make it worthless. It's not child labor at all either. They are either 18 or almost 18 (just like anyone working at McDonald's). And the people who are not on scholarship get to play a game they choose to play, of their own free will, and with an opporttunity to earn a scholarship. Consider it an unpaid internship with the chance at earning a salary. No one is forced to do anything.

    Not to mention all the extra benefits afforded to student-athletes compared to their non-athlete peers, such as in some cases, exclusive dorms, free tutoring, and the chance to show off on national television in hopes of landing far greater earning potential for playing a game. And lots of sex with co-eds.

  • Matt Welch||

    The athletes *are* compensated.

    Show me where I said they weren't, and I'll cop to your ignorant/hypocritical charge.

  • ||

    ...does the cash value of a scholarship and other legal compensations of student football and basketball players even get close to minimum wage when factored over play, travel, and practice hours?

    SF, I would say yes. There are practice time limits. Not that it should matter to libertarians who disagree with minimum wage anyway. The only requirement we should have is that the "employer" and "employee" agree on the terms of their association and that no one is being forced. So, barring a Bobby Knight choke hold, I say all is pretty much on the up and up until a student takes gifts from boosters against the agreement of his contract with the school and NCAA.

  • ||

    Matt,

    You wrote, wouldn't the discussion begin with the fact that the NCAA cartel prohibits its primary bread-winners from being paid?

    Potayto-potahto?

  • Oscar||

    I neither follow politics nor really understand those adults who do ...

    Seriously, was the disdain necessary? Reminds me of people who brag about how little TV they watch.

  • ||

    I neither follow college football nor really understand those adults who do

    I didn't know you were gay. NTTAWWT

  • ||

    Had Utah ever earned a decent reputation, my Crimson Tide wouldn't have come out so flat. So it is really Utah's own fault that their dream season didn't result in a championship. That said, a six team playoff would totally kick ass. Not that congress should have anything to do with it.

  • ||

    People don't get the interstate commerce clause. It does not grant the power to congress to regultate or prohibit or tax purely private commerece. If the framers had so intended, they would have said so. Note that the clause reads as follows:

    "To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes."

    To construe that clause to embrace interstate commerce among private individuals is illogical, irrational statist clap trap.

  • ||

    Oscar-

    My sentiments exactly.

  • ||

    's 10:20 post is on the short list of the most ignorant, ill-informed, downright stupid comments in the history of H&R.

  • ||

    I was referring to the post prior to that of Spartacus.

  • ||

    QFMFT, libertymike.

    If the Interstate Commerce Clause giving the national government the power to regulate "Commerce . . . among the several States" means that the national government has the power to regulate the economic activities of private individuals living in those states, then

    Why doesn't the he Interstate Commerce Clause giving the national government the power to regulate "Commerce . . . with foreign nations" mean that the national government has the power to regulate the economic activities of private individuals living in foreign nations?

  • ||

    Is the BCS Too Big to Fail?

  • ||

    Maybe we should form a new party--the Do Nothing Party. Our platform shal be to promise to sit on our fat asses and not lift one finger for four years,

    Short Idiotacus: We have to do SOMETHING!

    Drink!

  • ||

    "Apparently uncompensated child-labor is cool if its for a "non-profit.""

    College students are adults.


    Not according to recent credit card legislation and drinking laws.

  • Spartacus||

    Marshall Gill, you lost me, unless you thought I was being sarcastic. I wasn't. I would vastly prefer politicians who do nothing to ones who insist on sticking their noses into every buttcrack they can find.

  • ||

    "College students are adults."

    "The athletes are compensated. Most of them are on scholarship having access to an education and living expenses for performing a task, and many of them would not qualify for entry to the job without the athletic skill they bring to the table."

    They may be adults, but players are treated as children. And if there is a rigged system in place, its the NCAA's relationship to the pro leagues, especially basketball and football.

    The way its setup to access the pros, you basically have to go pay your tithing at the NCAA somewhere. Kobe, LeBron, Garnett, etc. were all coming straight out of high school. The NBA "fixed" that, basically in collusion with the NCAA. The NFL was already "fixed" that way to begin with. There's no other reason for the age floors imposed by the NBA and the NFL but to keep a narrow age range a captive - virtually free - talent pool for the NCAA.

    Something about that stinks.

  • Aaron||

    Orrin Hatch is a tool.

  • Matt Welch Makes Me Sleepy||

    "Potayto-potahto?"

    He's a petty man and a shitty writer. What did you expect?

  • robc||

    The senior senator from Utah is still pissed that his undefeated University of Utah Utes football team

    His is a BYU alum. Im pretty sure he hates the Utes with a fiery passion. Or, at least, he should.

  • robc||

    I will admit that all I know about college football is that it makes driving anywhere in my city an absolute bitch 10 times a year.

    Um, when is driving in Lexington not an absolute bitch?

    YOU PUT LIGHTS ON YOUR FUCKING LIMITED ACCESS LOOP ROAD, YOU FUCKING MORONS.

    Also, despite their crappy scheduling, UK never has 10 home games a year. 8 max.

  • ||

    I boggle at "libertarians" who don't want the government messing with the BCS or the NCAA, when the overwhelming majority of the member institutions are creatures of state governments! Sure, there are plenty of private schools in the NCAA, but very few of them particpate in BCS/old Division I football, and only a handful are plausible candidates to win a championship.

    We should be agitating to privatize the college sports cartels, which would necessarily require privatizing the member institutions.

    Kevin

    (...not a bit bitter that his alma mater had to give up football 14 years before he matriculated.....)

  • ||

    Hey Hughey

    Dried up wastelands? I'm sure you could not find Utah on a map, let alone describe her geological features.

    We're not trading Utah's 5 National Parks and many more monuments, 11,000 foot snow capped mountains, world class skiing, or even places like San Diego (yea, there's a dump), Las Vegas, Colorado and New Mexico's natural beauty, Wyoming with Yellowstone and the Tetons etc....

    For the garden spots of the world like Norman, Lincoln, Ames, Pullman, Waco, Lubbock, Miss., Alabama, New Jersey, etc..

    If you are making a geographical argument, you lose.

    This is about anti-trust violations, period. Until a party files a federal lawsuit, nothing will happen.

    When Duke, Vanderbilt, Baylor, Wash. St. etc.. are granted 2-4 million every year from the BCS, regardless of their records and the BYU's, Utah, TCU, Boise and 50 other non-bcs schools, of the world, share a whopping 9 million dollars 56 ways, that is indeed illegal?

    That is collusion and resriction of trade. Its's illegal. And the BCS's day is coming.

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