The Photographer Was Ready

This horrific ski accident.

There is something about the dynamic between the media and sports and young athletes that has always worried me. You must eternally go faster, harder, bigger, to set records, to win medals, to give speeches for big money, to become a scandal, to run a school, and so on. All of this push to increase the risk of injuries like this, for our entertainment. I note the photographer on the left focusing on the skier in agony before help has even arrived.

And is her performance really more interesting to watch because it’s faster than was possible years ago, before the optimized equipment and slopes? Do the young competitors really understand the risks they are pushed to accept, for the thrill of the tv audience?

I say slow the whole thing down, on purpose.  Why should I care if the hill can be descended 10 seconds faster than it was five years ago?  If they are all skiing on the same hill and same general equipment, we have a competition.

The only thing missing would be the braying headline: record shattered.

And bones.

You won’t pay $100 to have dinner while listening to a former athlete describe how her life was ruined by an accident on the slopes, or the chute, or cliff, or the race track.

Janet Jackson Gets Her “Due”

According to the New York Times, Janet Jackson has been unjustly deprived of accolades and esteem because of the scandalous event known as “nipplegate” in which a piece of her wardrobe fell away from her breast while Justin Timberlake was trying to put it back during a performance at the Superbowl in 2004.

No– the act was Justin Timberlake pulling the wardrobe away from her breast.  But what was supposed to happen– after the audience got their titillation out of the way– was that the pulled away fabric would just reveal more fabric.

The Superbowl is already a triviality, a monument to nothingness, a mammoth orgy of absurdly boring sport and vulgarity.   The half-time performances are already obscene: most artists lip-sync and gyrate to inane pop inanities while tanned boobie commentators ravish them with praise.

The song Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake was performing was about getting somebody naked.  Why was that acceptable but the real thing was not?  Because there is nothing in the world more appealing to hypocrites than titillation– literally!  The enjoyment of things they believe to be taboo without the actual thing.  Janet Jackson’s sin was that for a brief moment she dispelled the illusion that millions of viewers thinking deeply about tits would be exposed as actually thinking deeply about tits.  The secret about “nipplegate” is that the real offense was exposing just how dirty America’s minds really are.  Someone will have to be crucified in order to expunge this dirty secret and restore middle-America’s sense of respect and decency!  I will not tolerate a naked breast on tv!  I am a moral person!  But, go ahead and dance and wiggle your clothed hips and sing about getting naked– I love it– but I am a decent, moral person who will only vote for non-outed political candidates.

Was there “blame”?  What are you talking about?  They were doing exactly what the audience wanted.  The costumes, the lyrics, the gyrations, the rhythm– all were aimed at creating the largest sense of arousal possible while pretending to be enjoying the music and the artistry– and the sport– instead.

Shunned because of “nipplegate”?  I am astonished that anyone really cares about the wardrobe malfunction, for many reasons:

  • it was trivial– there is nothing horrifying about the human body, to children or adults;
  • Janet Jackson is trivial: there is not, among her products, not a single performance of anything, that matters in any sense: she is merely a pop artist of no particular originality or insight;
  • attributing indifference to an artist who is a woman and black can’t always be blamed on the fact that she is a woman and black: for heaven’s sake, she never was or is anything other than a pop artist of mediocre achievements;
  • how did she get to be an artist in the first place?  Did someone in the music industry notice this very talented singer somewhere and decide she should be a star?  Or, could she have had some privileged connections?  Do you need to ask?
  • Even Janet Jackson, or mediocre artistic achievement, deserves better than to be treated like that for a trivial indiscretion, even if it was intentional or her fault.

The Bush Administration tried to punish CBS for not preventing the mishap.  Last I heard, the courts had thrown out the case.

Pull Both Goalies

Here are the problems with this research.

  1. There is no baseline.  There won’t be until one or more teams decides to challenge orthodoxy and try not pulling their goalie when trailing by one or two goals near the end of the game.
  2. The study assumes that opposing teams will not change their behavior if teams start pulling their goalie early.  The most obvious anomaly will be teams that smartly decide to start taking potshots at the empty net rather than just clearing the puck out of their zone.
  3. The study assumes that the chances of scoring a tying goal in the last few minutes of a game are the same as they are for the rest of the game (see 1).  It is more likely that teams trying to tie a close game will intensify effort as the game draws to a close and generate more scoring chances regardless of whether they have pulled the goalie or not.  Teams defending a lead tend to give up opportunities to score (pinching at the blue line, for example) in favor of a tighter defense.  Perversely, this allows the trailing team to play more aggressively (eg. pinching at the blue line).  (My impression this year is that more and more teams are actually continuing to attack during these periods– which, I think, is smart.)
  4. The study almost idiotically asserts that you should pull your goalie by the middle of the 2nd period if you are trailing by 4 goals or more.  I would love to see a team try this so we can settle this absurdity for once and for all.  Please.
  5. In reference to point 4, the flaw here should have been obvious to all concerned.  Defending teams score into an empty net 3 times as often as the trailing team scores the tying goal.  That is in a period of 90 seconds or less.  If you extend that period to 30 minutes, as this study suggests, the defending team is not thereby still 3 times as likely to score one goal as the other team is to score one goal: it is as likely to score about 20-30 goals.  So this idea only works if the trailing team not only scores first, but continues to score, several times, before the other team can score.  And most of those goals will be scored before the trailing team, of course, can tie it.

Okay, it’s not all that complicated.  If pulling the goalie gives you an advantage, why wouldn’t both teams do it?  Yes, I mean at the same time.

And to the rabble who go, “of course the team with the lead wouldn’t pull the goalie– why would they?  They have the lead, you moron.”

There– feel better?  Got that off your chest?  Now let’s proceed.

In every sport, in every aspect, something that is a real advantage for one team is a real advantage for the other: a heavier bat, a bigger goalie pad, height, size.  (In football, for comparison’s sake, we’re talking about the defensive or offensive alignments being comparable: not one team’s offense vs. another team’s defense.)

So why wouldn’t both teams pull their goalie for the last 3 minutes of a close game?  The naive answer is, because only the team that is trailing would benefit.  That is sheer absurdity: an advantage is an advantage no matter what the score is.   The naive fan, however, decides that the trailing team will never score in the last minutes of a game if they don’t pull their goalie.  Meantime, the defending team would obviously benefit by putting the game out of reach, even though, I will concede, that doesn’t increase the value of the win.  But increasing your chance of winning does have a real value.  Obviously.

That is not a dispensable piece of information: it is indisputably true– there is no factor that makes it more advantageous for one team to pull their goalie than the other.  Either you increase your chances of winning or you don’t.  Unless– and here’s the fly in the ointment of those who argue for pulling your goalie early– unless you assert that no team can score in the last few minutes of a game if they have not pulled their goalie.  That is plainly nonsense, but it hasn’t been proven because not a single coach in the NHL will not pull their goalie in the last minute of a game in which they have a one-goal deficit.   Not one.  If a coach, using his head, decided to not do it, he would face hysteria on the level of the Salem witch trials.

And the same with a coach with a one-goal lead who pulled his goalie with  a face-off in his opponents end with three minutes left.  If this is such a freakin’ advantage, why wouldn’t he?  Because, you admit, it would be stupid.

And if it is an advantage because teams only do it if they have a face-off, or possession, in the other team’s end, then obviously the team with the lead will occasionally also have a faceoff or possession in the other team’s end.

Yes, it would be stupid.  Because he will have increased the chances of his opponent tying the game with an easy shot into the empty net.

So why is this not stupid for the team that is trailing by one goal?

So team “A” has a one goal lead and a faceoff in their defensive zone.  Team “B” pulls their goalie.  Suppose Team “A” gets the puck– a not unlikely development — and gets it out to centre ice.  (I leave aside the point to be made that a team may begin to adopt the strategy of actively shooting for the empty net; in fact, many teams have clearly already begun to adopt this strategy, which I believe, will kill this entire movement relatively quickly.)

Back to my hypothetical: Team “A” shoots it deep into Team “B”‘s zone and pulls their goalie.  So now we have both teams with six skaters and empty nets.

What do you think would happen?  Do you begin to understand why this is an absurd strategy?  Or, if Team “B” scores to tie the game, do you really think they will leave their goalie out so they can try to win it in regulation time?

Here’s a scenario that, I will concede, makes some sense.  A little.  A preposterous amount, but some:  pull your goalie whenever you have a face-off in your opponents end of the rink.

Well, nobody does that either.  For reasons I would think were obvious.

The fundamental problem with this entire discussion is that nobody– not a single coach– will test the theory that not pulling your goalie works better.  Not one.  Not a single fricken coach.  Because the team’s fans would raise hell and every commentator and sports-writer would call him an idiot.

I have noticed that many baseball commentators continue to act baffled when teams don’t automatically sacrifice bunt when trailing late in the game with a runner on first and nobody out, 20 years after this strategy was clearly proven to be worthless.

Note on another factor not measured: it is obvious that a team that is trailing plays differently in the last few minutes of a game– they see time running out.  They expend more energy and effort because they know there is an approaching deadline after which they can rest.  The know that if they expended that much effort and energy earlier in the game, they would not have much of it left for the finish.  This is a bit ritual, and a bit practical.  And this is why I would argue that pulling your goalie may actually be counter productive, but here’s the bottom line:  we can never know what the chances of scoring without pulling your goalie are, because nobody does it.

(Actually, somebody does: apparently, pulling the goalie is rarely done in the Russian professional leagues.  They don’t believe in it.  It would be really interesting to get their data.)

To “prove” that pulling your goalie is a smart strategy you must have a baseline to compare it to, just as Bill James had a baseline of teams not sacrificing to compare the strategy to.  (It’s easy in baseball: most teams don’t normally sacrifice early in the game, and it’s easy to measure if there is a improvement in the success of the strategy later in the game.)  That’s why his conclusions are reliable, and yours, empty-net enthusiasts, are not.

But even without this kind of baseline, listen to yourselves:

Since the best teams in hockey win about twice as often at the worst teams, they are likely behind near the end of the game roughly half as often, and therefore would get only about half the benefit from optimal pulling. If the average benefit is 0.02, we might guess that the benefit is 0.0133 for the best teams….

 

(From SSRN_Pulling_the_goalie_hockey_and_investment_implications.pdf)

In other words, even if it did have a demonstrated benefit, it would be tiny.  None of these studies seem to factor in the possibility of increased intensity of effort in the last few minutes resulting in a normalized base scoring potential that would be higher– which seems likely– than the baseline used to calculate the pulling the goalie conveys an advantage.  And, more importantly, none of these studies factor in the possibility that defending teams will behave differently if teams pull their goalie earlier.   

We are, in fact, already seeing teams take pot-shots at the empty net.  They seem to be more than happy to accept a few icing calls as the expense of this strategy.  Think about it: if this happens in the first few seconds after a face-off– precisely when it is most likely that you might have possession of the puck– the risk is substantially minimized.

After suggesting that a team should pull their goalie in the first period if down by 4 or 5 goals or more — seriously?

Though we’d admit the assumptions and simplifications of our model are probably being pushed much harder for this “losing by a ton early” analysis.

Ah– the writer begins to realize just how absurd his premise is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Defensive Replacement

You have seen this many times before:  a baseball team, leading in the late innings of a close game, will take out one of their players who has defensive deficiencies and replace him with a player who is better at defense but not as good of a hitter.  The idea is, now that we have a lead,  we will place a priority on preventing the other team from scoring rather than on scoring more (unnecessary) runs ourselves.

I would put it this way: we have a line-up on the field that has demonstrated it’s superiority to the other team by scoring more runs than they do, so let’s alter that line-up.  Let’s remove a player that helped give us that lead and replace him with a player who is less effective.

We know he is less effective because otherwise he would have started the game.

Does this make sense?  It makes as much sense as the guard against doubles defense late in the game and the sacrifice bunt.  In other words, it doesn’t make sense.

You have an offensive player who, say, bats .280 and walks a little, but costs you some defense.  He’s not going to miss every defensive play.  Nor is the defensive player going to hit .100.  Just how often will the difference in defensive capability matter?    At third base, it will affect a small number of hits that are slightly out of the reach of an average or below average defender.   But then, the third baseman is likely to bat once in the last 3 innings– perhaps twice.  How much difference will an extra .100 make on the offense?

 

 

Pulling the Goalie (2)

I got an answer.  Or did I?   (From this interesting site.)

And here’s the meat: “A team that practices optimal goalie-pulling gains an average of 0.02 more points per game. That is worth 1.76 points in an 82 game season, over a team that never pulls the goalie”. !! And that does not include a factor that Gladwell doesn’t consider (which is typical of Gladwell– missing obvious but important factors) and the paper at SSRN doesn’t appear to consider: what if the opposing team with the lead changes their strategy? Given five full minutes of an empty net, some teams might optimize the idea of getting the puck to a sharpshooter near center, rather than “circling the wagons”. At one point, Gladwell even says that pulling the goalie is better than not pulling the goalie because if you don’t pull the goalie, you have “a zero chance of winning”, which is clearly not true. And his expert admits that he would pull the goalie right at the start of the game, if it were up to him, which is exactly what I wish somebody would do, for at least 25 games, to give us a good sample.

Here’s an actual example of the specious reasoning involved:

A team down a goal with short time remaining gains a lot by scoring, and loses little if the other team scores as losing by two
goals is no worse than losing by one (admittedly our model doesn’t consider pride!).

Look carefully at the logic of this argument.  True, losing by two goals instead of one makes no difference.  But that’s not what happens.  What happens is your chances of tying the game with one goal is lost: you are now two behind.  And here is the point he completely misses:  there is still time left in the game.  

Again, all concerned assume that you cannot score a goal unless you pull your goalie.

Incidentally, that same paper criticizes baseball managers who have been slow to adopt “the infield shift”. But more careful analysis of the infield shift have raised serious questions about whether it’s really effective. It reduces the number of ground ball hits, but not the outcome: runners on base.

The author also said he would not have bailed out any banks during the 2008 financial crisis, which is interesting, but beside the point. The real issue was the government allowing sub-prime mortgages, junk bonds, and derivatives in the first place.

2019-01-21: I just watched the Leafs lose to the Arizona Coyotes– one of the Leafs’ worst games of the season.  I continue to wonder why Babcock is regarded as a good coach.  I’m not saying he’s not– I’m just saying I don’t know how, given the Leafs’ recent struggles, you could tell that he was good.  Anyway, the Leafs were applying a lot of pressure in the 3rd period, trying to tie the score, and getting some pretty good chances.  I thought they had a real shot at it.  Until they pulled their goalie.  It’s not hard to feel vindicated if you believe it’s a bad idea because even “pull the goalie” enthusiasts have to admit that the opponent is 3 times as likely to score and the team that pulls the goalie.

Pulling the Goalie

As far as I can tell, all the research on pulling the goalie early only compares pulling the goalie with a minute left, or earlier. I haven’t located any research that compares pulling the goalie with not pulling the goalie. Presumably, teams pressing for a tying goal, might actually occasionally score at even strength if they didn’t pull their goalie. But pulling your goalie will result in your opponent scoring about three times as often as it results in your team scoring, and your chances are only about 10% anyway. The trouble is, everybody pulls their goalie, so there’s no benchmark to compare it to. (Except in Russia, apparently, where it’s not done.)  The infamous study that leads to the misconception.

So I am sticking to my theory that it makes just as much sense to pull your goalie right from the start of the game (or any time you have a face off in your opponent’s end) as it does in the last minute.  In other words, it does not make sense.

I wish someone would try it.

And we all know why no one will: because the fundamental equation does not work.

The same logic applies to “no-doubles defense” in baseball.  This idea is simply silly.  There is presumably an optimal location in the outfield for all the fielders during normal play.  This position has been arrived at through years of experience and analysis: where is the ball most likely to be hit.  The goal is to maximize the chance of catching it and making an out.  The essential goal is to stop the other team from advancing a runner to home plate.  If you put the fielders in the wrong place, you might prevent more doubles but you would allow more singles, which will result in more runs being scored.  For eight innings of baseball, everybody agrees with that wisdom.

Suddenly, in the 9th inning (and sometimes sooner), all this analysis and wisdom is out the window and, instead, we move everyone back to make sure that nobody gets a double.  This obviously increases the chances of a hitter getting a single, because you’ve opened up space between the infielders and the outfielders.  And the idea is that decreasing the chances of making an out on a hit that might now be a single is worth the possibility that you will hold the batter to one base, instead of two.   So, you get something like 1.3 singles instead of one double.  So you now have runners on first and third when you might have had two outs instead.

I haven’t seen a good statistical analysis of this idea yet but it really isn’t necessary.  It’s a logical problem.  Is it logical to increase the chances of a hit and reduce the chance of an out in order to reduce the chance that the hit will be a double?  No.  Is it logical to believe that moving the outfielders back from their optimal positions on the field is an advantage in the late innings?  If it is, then why is it not an advantage in the first inning?

Think about it– is there any logical reason why it would not also be an advantage early in the game?  It doesn’t really matter when the other team scores their runs, as long as they score more than you.

What is understandable is this: the manager has to manage.  What else is he going to do in the late innings of a close game?  Get a glove and join the outfielders?

Just listen to the commentators!  I just saw one last night on the issue of pulling the goalie in the last minute.  Mike Babcock, after the Leafs already gave up an empty net goal, making it 4-2 for the Carolina Hurricanes, hesitated to pull the goalie a second time.  One of the “analysts” said, “I wondered, why the hell is he not pulling the goalie!”.

Mike Babcock is certainly smart enough to know that pulling the goalie only marginally increases your chances of tying the game if you are one goal behind.  The chances that you would score 2 goals is ridiculously small.

But it would take a truly remarkable coach to defy commentary like that and do something different.

So for the foreseeable future, we will be stuck with an NHL that refuses to entertain the idea that pulling your goalie is a bad strategy.

Incidentally, last year, Tampa Bay Devil Rays tried the novel approach of having a reliever start the game, pitch an inning or two, and then bring in a “starter”.  I love the fact that somebody has the guts to at least try something different.  How did they do?  Very, very well.

What Did You Think You Were Getting

This article in NYTimes tells us that a number of gymnasts who worked out with coach and trainer Qi Han at Everest Gymnastics in North Carolina now allege that Mr. Han was abusive.

He absolutely was.  That’s how you do sports in the ultra-competitive U.S.A.  This is accepted as the way you drive young athletes to higher levels of performance.  Did you think your child’s coach was going to offer snacks as a reward?

I was on a collegiate hockey team in the Chicago area back in 1974.  We were coached by a Canadian history professor in a very relaxed, undisciplined manner.  It was decided– by somebody– that we would bring in a “real” coach for one practice, a Mr. Dave Vandenberg.  He immediately took to yelling and screaming abusively at us, trying to get us to play better.  I thought he was an idiot then, and I think so now.   I’m sure we would have played better had he hung around and coached us every day, but I just didn’t care that much.  Sports is trivial.  It is unimportant.  If you think it’s a way to bring glory to yourself, to make money, and become famous, then you get what you deserve.

Let’s make it clear.  Everest Gymnastics advertised itself to parents as an intensive training institution that could help young gymnasts improve their performances.  Do you know what kind of training we’re talking about, in ultra-competitive America?  Would it surprise you to find that coaches of any serious athletic discipline tend to be pricks?  That they shout at athletes and belittle them, and ridicule them, and mock them when they feel they are not making enough effort?

I have never been a fan of that school of thought that believes that there is something admirable in pushing athletes to perform better by screaming at them.  Why?  Why should I care if they perform better?  Is it worth it?  What’s the point?  To beat some other athletes whose coaches yell and scream at them?

You send your child to Everest Gymnastics just so he or she can have fun.  The children taking training from Qi Han are probably being pushed by their parents to achieve, achieve, achieve.  To be better than the competition.  This kind of coaching requires a lot of time and money.  Parents are up early, up late, driving here, driving there– if they have several children, they find themselves spending a lot of time and money trying to turn their children in to star athletes.  Medals.  Success. Maybe the Olympics.  Maybe the NFL.  Money and fame.

Are any of these parents under the delusion that these coaches are going to be nice to their children?  Sweet, and encouraging?

Are these coaching methods a secret?  The parents didn’t know what was going on?  Suddenly one day they went, “oh my god!  Coach Han is yelling at my daughter!”

[whohit]What Did You Think You Were Getting[/whohit]

Luck

A gentleman on Reddit– and everywhere else– posted that the New England Patriots, down 21-3 at one point, came back and won, proving that you should never give up, no matter how unlikely your success seems.

Kind of illogical really.  Everyone’s excited precisely because this kind of turnaround is incredibly rare.  It doesn’t actually “prove” you should never give up.  In the normal sense of “proof”, it only proves that there will be anomalies and there is always a dim hope that you will be one of them.  Would you want to make life decisions based on these odds?  I will quit my current job because there is a .4% chance I will get a better one?  I will break up with this lovely girl because there is 1.3% chance I can find a better one, who will also love me?  I will vote for this politician because he will prevent a terrorist attack in my home town, even though there was only ever a .002% chance of that occurring?

Don’t ignore the fact that there is a harm in obsessively following a course of action that has a only a microscopic chance of success.  The most obvious harm is the waste of time spent by someone who has virtually no chance of success.  Think of the hours and hours spent by marginal talents on trying to compete with far more talented athletes for a position on the varsity team.  Imagine all of that time spent enhancing other skills that were far more likely to provide real rewards, like learning a trade, or taking courses, or even reading worthwhile literature, or volunteering at a homeless shelter or a food bank, or at church or school, or your neighborhood.  But there is also the harm of repetitively absorbing failure and subservience and inferiority.  It is not for no reason that we sometimes tell people to stop subjecting themselves to inevitable failure and learn to accept things the way they are.

There is another aspect to this: without the thousands and millions of wannabes, there would be no competitors, no infrastructure, no pool of adversaries that allow the top talents to eventually cash in on a mind boggling scale.  Go to the Little League games, the skating and gymnastics competitions, the track and field events: before anyone gets to the big public crowd, most of your audience consists of parents or friends or relatives or classmates of your competitors.  Without them, you would have been nothing.  Without them, no coaches or infrastructure, or training equipment, or fields or gyms or rinks.  And without all those weaker competitors, there would be no competition.  Yet there are almost no real rewards for those weaker competitors.

Unless they learn to accept the con job offered by the sports establishment: keep trying.  Never give up.  Work hard, and some day you too can win.  It isn’t true.  Without the gifts, you will never win.

You get to be used.

 

[whohit]Luck and the New England Patriots[/whohit]

Humility

I’ve never cared much for the braying exuberance with which most athletes now celebrate their goals or hits or victories.  I didn’t like Bautista’s bat flip.  I don’t like football (real football) players acting like they just raised someone from the dead every time they score a goal.  Why?  Simple: humility is a good thing.   You are not that great.  You performed an exceptional athletic feat: that’s all.  It’s just a physical ability.  It gives pleasure to your fans but not to the fans of the other 30 teams.  You achieved the ability to perform this feat by focusing all of your energy and passion into an extremely limited range of physical activity thereby depriving you of the opportunity to develop your mind, or your other physical skills.  It is not that great.

In American cities, in the South especially, football heroes– even at the high school level– are treated like gods.  They get the best seats in the local restaurants and never have to wait in line.  They get all the love.  They are treated like Disney Princesses: entitled, privileged, spoiled.  They are Disney Princesses.

I get arguments about this.  The bat flip was wonderful.  It was so much fun. Why shouldn’t he celebrate a great moment in sports?

Well, let’s turn it around.  How about if someone reads and understands a difficult book on economics?  How would you feel if he jumped up and down and screamed and shook his fist and yelled, “I know how capital accumulates!  I’m smarter than you!”?  You would despise him for his arrogance.   How about if he ridiculed one of your favorite movies, like “Shawshank Redemption”, as mediocre, unimaginative, and uninteresting, and recommended, instead “The White Ribbon”?  You asshole!  What if he looked at you with a slight sneer and said, “Really?  Neil Diamond?  You like Neil Diamond?”

Imagine.  In those Southern American cities: here’s a student with an A average: he gets the best table.  He gets the girls.  Strange people recognize him and slap him on the back.  You’ve made us all proud: you are smart.  You are a Princess.

You athletes will just have to wait your turn.

 

[whohit]Humility[/whohit]

 

 

 

Free Enterprise for You Losers

Congress has introduced a bill which will remove certain provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act from application to minor league ball players.  Are you kidding me?

You might ask yourself, if you are a patriotic, law-abiding, constitution-loving American citizen, why is the government rigging the system in favor of the owners of baseball teams?

If you haven’t stopped laughing yet, let’s put the words out there: because they asked them to.  And it has nothing whatsoever to do with donations or lobbyists or anything of the sort.  No, the “Save America’s Pastimes Act”– I am not making this up! — is all about preserving part of our national character, and providing fun for the whole family.

Of course it’s a sop to owners!  Of course the purpose is to increase profits for owners and reduce earnings for players!  Of course it’s an expansion of the rights and privileges of the ownership class at the expense of labour.

And why shouldn’t the government step in to ensure that gullible young men who honestly believe they will win the lottery some day and play in the major leagues (90 % of them won’t) can be exploited by billionaire team owners who already get taxpayer subsidized stadiums from equally gullible tax-payers?  Why shouldn’t they have a hand in the exploitation of young athletes who would do anything for a chance at a professional career?

The moral objection to taking taxpayers money for personal gain only applies to poor people mainly because they lack the vocabulary.  Instead of saying, I need some money to feed my kids and pay my rent because I’m broke and I don’t have a job, you must learn to say, “I wish to invest in the future of our nation and lay the groundwork for a thriving culture of aspiration so that our young people can fulfill their dreams.”

And here is $10,000 for your re-election campaign.  And we’ll call it the “Save America’s Pastimes Act”.

If one of your representatives supported this bill, I hope you vote against him in the next election, if only for this reason: the astounding cynicism of the title of the bill.

[whohit]Free Enterprise for Losers[/whohit]