Super Bowl

Just What Patriots' Deflategate Scandal Needed: U.S. Congressmen

Government is once again threatening to use tax dollars to meddle in the affairs of private sports leagues.


||| Patriots/flicker

In case you thought the New England Patriots' "Deflategate" scandal couldn't get any more disarrayed, the folks who think they can fix every mess (and often end up making the problem worse) are considering jumping into the fray.

The Patriots are under fire after it was discovered that 11 of the 12 balls used in the first half of their conference championship game against the Indianapolis Colts were inflated to a level lower than National Football League (NFL) standards. Now, at least one member of the political class is asking the government to get involved.

In a posting on his website, U.S. Senator Dean Heller (R-Nev.) used his bully pulpit to call for "decisive actions" to punish the Patriots, because, hey, why shouldn't a politician just decide to invoke government force and taxpayer dollars to investigate a game held by a private sports league?

Heller bases his reasoning on the fact that he is a senator from Nevada, where gambling is legal, and it is thus "imperative the integrity of the game never be questioned." This logic is flawed for two reasons:

  1. There is scant evidence that marginally deflated balls had any impact on on the outcome of the Patriots' blowout 45-7 victory over the Colts. If Heller truly wanted to look into goings on that could affect the outcome of games, there's a multitude of far more impactful things he could poke his nose into, including refereeing and steroid use. 
  2. Even if slightly deflated balls did in fact have a major impact on games, it should be the responsibility of the NFL, not American taxpayers, to enforce the rules. Having the government step in to regulate games is essentially offering a free service to a multibillion-dollar sports league that can easily afford to implement its own game integrity protocols.

This isn't the first time politicians have decided to use the authority and resources of the government to meddle in the affairs of private sports leagues. For more than a decade, federal prosecutors have partnered with Major League Baseball (MLB) to publicly shame players accused of using steroids. The most infamous example came in 2005, when Congress subpoenaed seven former MLB stars to testify before a panel on drug use in baseball.

The government has also stepped in to pressure college football to adopt a playoff format, ban mixed martial arts (MMA) in some states, and regulate the number of male and female sports teams colleges are allowed to field. On top of this, the FBI—rather than sports leagues themselves—annually dedicates a portion of its $8.3 billion budget to ensuring games aren't fixed by gamblers.

At least the U.S. doesn't have any ministries of sports, as European nations do. But don't think there isn't support for creating one. Bill Simmons, probably the most popular sports columnist in America, has often called for a presidentially appointed "Sports Czar," granted the authority to legislate issues affecting private sports leagues. Given how eager politicians already are to intervene in sports, it's not far-fetched to think that just such an unnecessary, intrusive position might be in our future.

NEXT: U.S. Supreme Court to Review Oklahoma's Lethal Injection Protocol

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  1. “Hey, don’t stick your noses in our balls!”

    1. balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls balls

  2. Will the fake scandals never end?

  3. (R-Nev.)

    Because, hey, it may have had no impact on the outcome of the game, but it might have fucked up the spread?

    /In the pocket of Vegas book-makers?

  4. has often called for a presidentially appointed “Sports Czar

    Bah! This is a joke. What we need is an entire new bureaucracy! Maybe we can name it the FBOSM, The Federal Bureau of Sports Management. Will 500 billion be enough of a budget for starters? Ah shucks, why are we being so stingy?, let’s make it an even trillion for the first year!

    Why this new bureaucracy could spawn hundreds of baby bureaucracies for us to to nurture and watch grow! It’s a JOBS PROGRAM! WIN/WIN!!!

    1. Department of Sports Oversight.

  5. This is officially is retarded situation.

    My God.

    Don’t people WORK?

    1. This is officially A retarded situation.

      Like me.

  6. including refereeing and steroid use

    Considering the number of fucked up calls this season, steroids are obviously making referees blind and stupid.

  7. Should we go back and explore whether the Patriots cheated when they played against Tebow?

    My God. Denver could have had a Superbowl ring!

    1. Here’s what I don’t understand. If the balls were really under inflated by 2 lbs, how is it that the refs went through the entire game without noticing this?

      Something is wrong here. Either it didn’t happen or the refs intentionally let it slide. There is no way that a ball that should be inflated from 12.5 – 15 lbs psi, could be only 10 psi and no one would notice.

      I detect a lot of bullshit here.

      1. Well, it was noticed, supposedly at or around half-time, but I don’t know by whom.

        Seen a lot of rumors and accusations, but still don’t know what the ‘official’ story is.

        Heard that the Indy equipment staff was first, but also heard the refs noted it on their own.

        1. the refs noted it on their own.

          See, this is the problem. They noticed it but didn’t say hey, this ball is out of spec, get a new ball that’s correctly inflated, during a championship game? This entire thing really stinks.

          1. So you are saying that the refs should have said, “Hey, Belichick! Blow these balls!”?

        2. They now say they are zeroing in on equiptment guy who took balls from ref to the field but made a slight detour. If I was a betting man, I would guess that the ref never really checked the whole bag of balls like he says. Thats why there was one fully inflated ball, probably the one placed on top in the bag by Brady. He knows the ref isnt gonna test every single ball. Shit sounds boring.

  8. I wonder how many redskins/ravens Superbowls there would be if there was a sports czar…? Not to mention Nationals/Orioles world series.

    1. So you’re assuming that the sports czar will always be from MD?

      1. Of course. At least he’ll live in DC.

        1. DC != MD

          I suspect that the sports czar will be like all the other czars. It all depends on who’s next on the crony-go-round and doesn’t have a current czarship. So the next sports czar could actually be Hillary if she don’t run for POTUS. Never mind that she doesn’t know a safety from a touch down. Being Czar requires no skills.

  9. So the real question here is which vegas bigwig lost his shirt betting the Colts?

    1. The dumbest one, just find the really dumb one.

      1. yes. whoever it is should be institutionalized.

  10. Usually when Republican congressmen are this obsessed with balls they’re standing at a urinal in a Minneapolis airport.

    1. +1 Wide stance

      1. *taps foot uncontrollably*

        1. “Nothing underinflated here!”

    2. Wasn’t he just doing an Astaire?

  11. Nominally private sports league.

  12. They don’t like government meddling? Boo. Fucking. Hoo. Stop asking for government dollars and favors first.

  13. a presidentially appointed “Sports Czar,” granted the authority to legislate issues affecting private sports leagues.

    This Czar had jolly well better also be granted the authority to enforce mandatory exercising among the population.

    Well, at least grant that to a new arm of DHS.

    “The First Lady said ‘Let’s Move’, motherfucker!”

  14. Pucks, pucks, pucks, pucks/a

  15. I put this here again. Odd how few people seem to understand that cold air contracts…

    1. Assumes facts not in evidence (as far as I know), namely, were the balls inflated with warm air? Were they warm when checked?

      I thought the Colts’ balls had been checked as well and weren’t underinflated, but I’m not seeing that anywhere.

      1. All the stuff about Colts’ balls also assumes missing information.

  16. If they really want to look into a sports scandal, find out why the Phillies owe Ryan Howard $60million more to strike out 190 times per season. If the National league would only adopt the designated hitter rule, there might be some value to keeping such has-beens for their sometimes offensive power.

  17. Sen. Heller says that government oversight is needed, since it is “imperative the integrity of the game never be questioned.” This presupposes, however, that the the integrity of government will never be questioned. Surely this is the pot calling the kettle black.

    1. A government is-too-big-and-there’s-too-much-regulation REPUBLICAN is saying this? Knock me over with an underweight feather.

  18. “At least the U.S. doesn’t have any ministries of sports, as European nations do.”

    Well, taxpayers build the football stadiums, don’t they? Maybe not a full fledged ministry, but a rose by any other name……….

  19. The refs blew it, no question.

    When they discovered the illegal, pardon me, undocumented, balls at halftime, they should have just started the game over.

  20. “1. There is scant evidence that marginally deflated balls had any impact on on the outcome of the Patriots’ blowout 45-7 victory over the Colts.”

    The issue is bigger than that game, and bigger than the advantage it gives the quarterback. An article in Nat. Rev. Online titled Does Deflate-gate Explain the Pats’ Super Low Fumble Rate?
    By Jack Fowler
    starts thusly:

    “This is a fascinating study of NFL fumble stats, by Warren Sharp of the Sharp Football Analysis blog: The Patriots’ stats are off the charts, relative to all other teams, and have been for a prolonged period. Over the last five seasons, the average NFL team fumble-to-play ratio is 1 in every 50. The Patriots record is 1 in every 73.

    “Why such a disparity? The obvious argument: Under-inflated balls are much easier for running backs to protect, and therefore less likely to be fumbled. Makes sense. There may be other valid explanations for why the Patriots are so exceptional. If there are, I’d love to hear them.”


      I beg to differ, their fumble stats are not terribly abnormal.Their Fumbles per play rate might be lower than average but that is largely a function of running an uptempo heavily pass orientated offence with fewer fumbles occurring in the passing game than the running game.

      If you look at their fumbles per game over the last 3 years they are 15th in the league and even this year they are only 2nd to the Vikings.

  21. There are state boxing, racing, and gaming commissions.

  22. Six months ago I lost my job and after that I was fortunate enough to stumble upon a great website which literally saved me. I started working for them online and in a short time after I’ve started averaging 15k a month… The best thing was that cause I am not that computer savvy all I needed was some basic typing skills and internet access to start…
    This is where to start???………

  23. You’re forgetting that professional sports have been granted a special status under the law, and I suppose it not completely unjustified to expect a certain level of behavior in return.

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