Why Can't We Be More Like Tatarstan?


Over at The Huffington Post, Northeastern University Law Professor Roger I. Abrams, who is probably some kind of Red Sox fan, comes up with the most asinine non-bailout public policy proposal you'll hear all day, riffing from the apparently untenable system the National Collegiate Athletic Association has for determining its champion football team, and a jokey statement from Barack Obama about this important national issue.

Of course, all other NCAA championship finalists in all other sports are determined by playoffs, but the defenders of the status quo fear the loss of collegiate glory for the many teams that can play in the "Corporate-Sponsored Bowl." Those lesser bowls actually cost colleges money after they cover expenses, money that is in short supply these days. I will leave the merits of the two conflicting approaches for a later discussion. But the Obama comment raises a more fundamental question: what might the President-Elect do to make sure someone in the federal government is responsible for national policy on, and coordination of, athletics and sports?

I propose we create a Department of Sport. Admittedly, this is not a unique idea. Most countries have a Ministry of Sports with responsibility for fostering physical education, developing amateur athletics and monitoring the businesses of professional sports.

Hmmm, let's see what well-governed, freedom-loving sports powerhouses come up first in a Google search on "Ministry of Sports"!

1) India
2) Tatarstan (pictured)
3) Guyana
4) Cameroon
5) Belarus [pdf]
6) Pakistan
7) Oman
8) Malaysia
9) Oman, again
10) Rwanda

So what's the rationale?

Obviously, placing the portfolio for athletics and professional sports in a single governmental entity would allow for some rational oversight. Under the current system of non-oversight, athletics have been driven purely by the profit motive.

Obviously! And as a result of this glaring lack, we continue to muddle through with the world's most entertaining and highest-quality competition in baseball, basketball, American-rules football, hockey, track and field, the gorgeous ladies of wrestling, and on and on. Not only has the profit motive improved said competition, the competitors themselves, once they were allowed to earn the fruits of their labors (much to the chagrin of those who prefer sporting indentured servitude in "pure" fields of play such as Cuba) then encouraged the rest of us to let our freak flags fly.

Best part of Professor Abrams' proposal?

I must admit a personal interest in this new Department of Sport since I would be more than willing to serve as its first Secretary.