Does Congress Have Anything Better to Do Than Complain About Big League Chewing?


No serious budgeting happened in Washington this week, but at least we can look forward to the annual renewal of spring as pitchers and catchers report to ballfields in Florida and Arizona. Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) marked the occasion by sending a friendly greeting to Major League Baseball (MLB) commissioner Bud Selig with a hello, how are you, and by the way the use of smokeless tobacco by professional baseball players is destroying society:

Leave the man alone, he's gonna have enough trouble producing at age-39 anyway

[Smokeless tobacco] undermines the positive image of the sport and sends a dangerous message to young fans, who may be influenced by the players they look up to as role models.

Tobacco-related products kill 443,000 Americans every year, and each day 1,000 American children and teenagers become new regular smokers…

While tobacco companies spend millions on ads tailored to attract young people to use tobacco products, MLB is undoubtedly complicit in attracting many young people to try smokeless tobacco after seeing their baseball heroes chew tobacco.

The irrelevant jab at smoking, nonsense about baseball's sparkling clean image, and outrage over the comportment of our "role models" all fit the model of standard congressional hand-wringing over the fate of our children. Although dip is much safer than smoking (with Tigers manager Jim Leyland about the only guy sneaking cigs on-field anymore), elected representatives have still taken up rooting cans of snuff out of every uniform pocket as their solemn duty. Last year, inane hearings on this topic led Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) to wonder "why don't they just chew gum?"

Maybe we need to send Sir Charles Barkley to Capitol Hill to remind Congress that athletes are entertainers, not role models.

More from Reason on the demon weed here.

NEXT: The ACLU and the New Politics of Civil Libertarianism

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Excuse me, but I am the real demon weed, Mr. Brokaw.

  2. I think Congress should cease all business and focus entirely on regulating sports. We’ll rewrite the Constitution to make regulation of sports its sole power.

    1. Soon Congress would declare any physical movement to be a sport, and regulate it accordingly.

      1. Damn!

        1. Clearly this means that non-movement can be regulated as well.

    2. just leave college football alone, and I’m on board.

      1. College football is already being eyeballed by Congress, due to the assumption that the BCS creates a monopoly on bowl games, and thus potential earnings, against non-AQ conferences.

        Or were you in a cave during the 2010 football season?

  3. More blather and pontification from useless political hacks. It’s getting old.

  4. “Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.)”

    “Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.)”

    Notice any patterns?

    1. Ummm…they all wear skirts?

    2. Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif)


    3. Well, dick and frank are synonyms. Not sure how the chick fits in. Oh…ha. Nice.

  5. Baseball could either use less spitting in general, or less extreme close ups in TV coverage.

    Why isn’t the field a slimy, slippery mess?

  6. I, personally, took this post as a good opportunity to avail myself of a fine, imported Swedish snus.

    1. Is that the after snu-snu snus?

    2. Does it have ground glass in it? The shit I had in Norway had little bits of ground glass to make small punctures in the lip and gum to make the nicotine enter the bloodstream directly.

      There are still some parts of being Norwegian that you can tell they were Vikings once.

  7. “While tobacco companies spend millions on ads tailored to attract young people to use tobacco products..”

    Supporting proof, please?

  8. Tobacco-related products kill 443,000 Americans every year, and each day 1,000 American children and teenagers become new regular smokers…

    I have it on good authority that discarded cigarette butts were found in the water near every shark attack!

    1. Pipe tobacco raped my little sister, asshole.

      1. She was asking for it, wearing that skimpy little meerschaum outfit.

  9. Tobacco causes global warming.

  10. Notice any patterns?

    They’ve all been endorsed, given awards, had galas held in their honor, been quoted in press releases, and are rated strongly “pro-civil rights” by the libertarian ACLU.

    You dumb, blind partisan.

  11. Chewing tobacco is haraam and cannot be tolerated.

  12. Maybe these congressfucks should think about the example they’re setting instead of worrying about baseball players.

  13. It’s a GAME, reps! Exactly what protection Do the citizens receive for their tax dollars spent drug testing and reprimanding players? Why is the government involved at all? More petty tyrant mentality.

    1. We receive protection from historically ignorant sportswriters crying about the old days when players just took amphetamines instead of amphetamines plus anabolic steroids.

      And really, if the government is going to protect us from anything, it should be that.

  14. each day 1,000 American children and teenagers become new regular smokers…

    That means 365,000 children and teenagers a year. I’ll be generous and say starting smokers in this named age group starts at 14. So, the number of U.S. children and teenagers aged 14-20 amounts to 22,342,701 according to 2001 Census Data. That means 1% of more than 22 million kids start smoking each year.

    1,000 a day sounds like a lot when written out like that, but only 1% of “children and teenagers” smart smoking each year, that’s not terrible.

    1. Or, put it this way:

      Every day, an average of 200 children in each state become new regular smokers.

      Or this:

      There are around 28,000 high schools in the US. You can expect that, in any given month, one (1) child attending your local high school will take up smoking.

      Teh horror!

      1. Even better, RC. Statistics are truly capable of warping one’s perspective.

        And we’re even being generous with the numbers and only using the age pool from 14-20 even though some smokers start earlier than that.

      2. It’s even more BS than that: apparently ALL of those children will die of smoking (443,000 each year versus 365,000 each year)

      3. Figger again…it’s 20 per state.

    2. I would say that is pretty amazing progress (if your goal is less smoking). Some people just don’t want to be happy.

  15. “..undermines the positive image of the sport” Baseball has a positive image? News to me.

    1. Yes it does. Because they don’t pull their pants down on the field to give themselves their steroid injections.

  16. Is there *ANY* matter so trivial that congress can’t find a way to get involved?

  17. “Tobacco-related products” What?

  18. Why do politicians hate tobacco? Don’t they care about lowering the cost of health care? Everyone knows tobacco kills you. The sooner you die the LESS in total health care costs you require. The politicians should be telling people to sit on the couch, smoke, eat junk food and do hard drugs. That solves two problems, less cost and fewer people needing services. Because they will be dead.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.