Labor Unions at the Heart of NY’s Dangerous and Foolish MMA Ban

This past weekend, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) experienced one of its biggest Pay Per View events ever in UFC 189 live from Las Vegas, Nevada. Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is widely considered to be the fastest growing sport in America and perhaps even the world. Thus, many different cities both inside and outside the United States have hosted MMA events. But in one state, New York, MMA remains illegal and will likely remain that way for at least one more year. The sport is legal and regulated by the proper authorities in the other 49 states.

 The inability of New York legislators to end the prohibition of MMA remained the norm once again this year after a legalization bill was not brought before the New York State Assembly for vote. The New York State Senate has passed a legalization bill each of the past six years. There was more hope for 2015 after former speaker of the New York Assembly Sheldon Silver, a major opponent of MMA legalization in the state, resigned due to an arrest on federal corruption charges back in January. But alas, there was not even a vote on the bill despite these advantages.

 It’s tempting to think that the continued political resistance to state sanctioned MMA bouts is a simple case of government nanny-stating creeping into the world of sports. After all, it was former mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg who banned trans-fats, public smoking and extra-large sodas (amongst other things). So perhaps it would make sense that the elected officials in the state of New York would extend the same kind of heavy handedness that Bloomberg so regularly applied to NYC. However, the real story is far more complicated and reeks of far more corruption than do-good politicians who try to run people’s lives.

 The story of MMA’s continued illegality in the Empire State centers around two of the UFC’s owners, brothers Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta. In addition to the UFC, the Fertittas also own Station Casinos in Las Vegas. This puts them at odds with the powerful Culinary Workers Union since Station Casinos is non-union. This union’s parent organization is called Unite Here and encompasses several different union organizations throughout the country. Unite Here’s headquarters is in New York City. Thus the adherence by New York politicians to union demands is far greater when a union hub is in close proximity. Of course, if one of those demands is that businessmen who hire non-union staffs are not allowed to expand their business into your state, then those union bankrolled politicians will apparently comply.

 The Politicians who say they wish to ban MMA for safety reasons really have no leg to stand on. There has never been a life altering condition or death associated with the sport. Boxing can’t say the same, as anyone who has merely taken a glimpse of Mohammed Ali in the past 20 plus years can attest to. Football can’t say the same either, as Junior Seau, Dave Duerson and Mike Webster all passed away long before their time. Both football and boxing are perfectly legal in the state of New York.

 Not only are the dangers of MMA overblown, but there’s actually even more danger in not legalizing the sport. Just like alcohol prohibition in the 1920’s and early 1930’s resulted in death, blindness, and increases in organized crime, prohibition on MMA has similar consequences. Fighting of this nature has been driven underground in New York where it is unregulated and far more dangerous. Many politicians never seem to learn the lesson of unintended consequences that come from banning something desired by certain segments of society.

 It appears the New York State Assembly is not only using dirty politics as a roadblock to prevent the expansion of a business which is legal everywhere else in the country, but their continuing prohibition of this business is actually harming those in the state who wish to engage in the prohibited activity. Combine these things with the revenue lost by New York to other states willing to hold sanctioned MMA bouts and it adds up to a very steep price to pay to keep the union bosses happy. So the politicians and the unions may have us believe that this prevented legality is somehow worth it, the reality of the costs tell us that this simply isn’t true.

 

 

 

 

The Government’s Opinion of the Confederate Flag has Nothing to do with Free Speech

In the midst of the national purging of the Confederate flag from a whole host of venues, ESPN host Keith Olbermann went to the airwaves recently in order to attempt to make a comparison. In this attempt, he cited a recent Supreme Court case in which it was ruled that the Texas government did not overstep the First Amendment in denying the Sons of Confederate Veterans’ request for specialty license plates bearing the Confederate flag. Thus, it was ruled constitutional for the state of Texas to deny this group license plates with this symbol.

Olbermann then pivoted to apply this ruling to the Washington Redskins organization and their judicial effort to reverse the U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s June 2014 ruling to cancel the team’s six trademark protections on grounds of the name ‘Redskins’ being “disparaging” to Native Americans. The host then reported that the judge in this case (Gerald Bruce Lee), told lawyers on both sides that “they should focus on how the Supreme Court ruling on the Confederate flag affects their case.” The audience was then informed that “the lawyers for the Native American side said, obviously, that their case was strengthened since when the Supreme Court ruled that when Texas refused to make the confederate plates because they were offensive, that did not mean that Texas was infringing on the First Amendment free speech rights of those who wanted an offensive symbol on their license plates and thus, that the United States would also not be infringing upon the First Amendment free speech rights of a company who wanted to use an offensive name for their products.” (emphasis mine)

These lawyers are making a rather dangerous assertion. License plates are issued solely by the state as a form of identification. The state is not afforded the same right to speech as individuals or groups of individuals. No individual or group of individuals should have the right to use the state to express a viewpoint. This is because the state is simply force. Nothing more, nothing less. A sports team, on the other hand, is a collection of individuals. Thus, First Amendment protections clearly apply to them regardless of their offensiveness. A sports team is not force no matter how many billions of dollars the team is worth. It cannot (by itself) tax us, arrest us, send us to prison or fine us. The state of course can and does do all of these things. Only imposition by private individuals on the state could result in confederate license pates. But only coercion by the state can prevent private individuals from expressing something that is allegedly offensive. This is why the lawyers for the Native American case are making such a dangerous claim. The First Amendment protects the right to be free from state coercion, not the right to convey your expression by way of the state.

So if a state (like Texas) refuses to grant identification with controversial symbols on it and then a government can rule that because of that refusal that First Amendment protections do not apply to private citizens who exhibit controversial symbols, then what limits are there to the free speech violations that a government could take part in? How many other controversial symbols do various states not issue on forms of identification? Probably a lot. But a lack of state issue has absolutely nothing to do with a private citizen or organization being entitled to free speech while displaying a symbol that some say is controversial. It certainly shouldn’t affect whether or not a private organization can be deprived of trademark protection as a result of a name or symbol that offends some people. A government cannot be its own standard bearer with regard to what is unoffensive enough to deserve First Amendment rights. If it ever becomes this way, our nation will start down a very slippery slope.

If government can use its own standards for what it chooses to express and not express to control the expression of its citizens, then we truly do not live in a free society. As former state judge and current Fox News judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano said when discussing this issue, “who cares what the government thinks.” Government thinking about what is or isn’t offensive is subject to the whims of whoever controls that government after any given election cycle. But the freedom to speak freely should never depend on the opinions of those who rule over us.

Shame on the NCAA For Not Being More Like the Minor Leagues

Northwestern University Athletics Director Jim Phillips had some strong words for the NBA and its influence over college basketball. While introducing some new ideas that ranged from shortening collegiate athletic seasons, to possibly eliminating freshman eligibility, Phillips then set his sights on college basketball’s “one and done” phenomenon by saying:

“…frankly speaking, shame on us. We have allowed the National Basketball Association to dictate what our rules are or influence what our rules are at the collegiate level. I think they look at us as the minor leagues. Nobody feels good about kids going to a school for a semester and then leaving. That’s absurd.”[1]

Now Phillips is actually correct that the NBA has influenced how basketball operates at the college level. By requiring those entering the NBA draft to be one year removed from high school and be 19 years of age, players good enough to be drafted by a professional team out of high school now have to spend a year elsewhere before this happens. But before this rule was adopted by the NBA (in 2005), elite players often went straight into the league out of high school. Was Phillips equally as worried about the players entering the NBA out of high school and spending zero semesters in college? Something tells me he probably wasn’t.

But the Athletic Director’s remarks deriding how college basketball has turned into “the minor leagues” (I’m assuming he means Minor League Baseball) is especially telling. Implied is that Minor League Baseball is something undesirable and inferior with respect to what the NCAA should desire to be. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you disagree, ask yourself the following questions:

– Does Minor League Baseball prevent its players from profiting off of their talent, imposing penalties like suspensions for infractions while the league itself pockets millions of dollars?

-Did Major League Baseball establish a rule requiring Minor League players to play a fixed amount of time at the Minor League level before being able to play at the Major League level?

-Does Minor League Baseball lie about the importance of their players receiving an education while some are attending fake classes?

The answer to all of these questions is a resounding no. But make no mistake, the NCAA is guilty of every one of them. Neither Jim Phillips, nor any other college’s athletic director, is realistically able to admit this. Therefore, college becoming minor league “esque” is something that can never be virtuous no matter how strongly reality proves otherwise.

So like Northwestern’s AD, I too believe that what the NCAA has done is shameful. But what should have caused that shame was their unwillingness to embrace the Minor League Baseball’s model of allowing their players to engage in methods to profit off of the talent that they have. Hopefully more people will realize that this is the more beneficial and more ethical system for those who are skilled in this particular way.

 

1.  http://thegazette.com/subject/sports/northwestern-ad-shame-on-us-for-allowing-nba-to-shape-eligibility-rule-20150519

How a Lame NCAA Suspension Actually Benefited Todd Gurley

With this year’s NFL draft behind us, many will reflect on the journeys that the draftees took en route to a professional football career. Certainly one of the more unique situations of a highly ranked selection was that of Georgia running back Todd Gurley. The St. Louis Rams took Gurley 10th in the draft, making him just the 3rd running back take with a top ten pick in the last seven years. But this isn’t what makes Gurley’s arrival in the NFL so unusual.

The 2014 college football season couldn’t have started any better for Todd Gurley. After putting up 198 rushing yards and three touchdowns in an opening game demolition against Clemson, he went on to rush for over 100 yards in three of his next four games. Then, a curious thing happened. The NCAA suspended Gurley for four games after it was found out that he had received more than $3,000 in exchange for autographed memorabilia. This effectively ended his chances for winning the Heisman Trophy. But this too is not that terribly unusual in the landscape of college athletics.

What makes Gurley’s punishment and draft selection so unique is that the penalty he incurred probably helped him more than it hurt him. Five games into the 2014 season, when the NCAA penalty came down, Gurley had already established himself as arguably the best running back in the country. Sitting out for four games likely didn’t effect where a team would have selected him in the draft (and as mentioned previously, taking a running back with a top 10 pick is unusual these days anyway). In addition, not being able to perform on the field takes away the possibility of serious injury. After Gurley’s dominance was established and NFL teams were aware of his performance level, any further participation on his part (especially at a high risk position like running back) would have increased his chance for serious injury and may have cost him a few spots in the draft. When you’re talking about the draft, slipping a few picks can cost an athlete millions of dollars.

The ironic thing about this whole ordeal is that by punishing Gurley for profiting off of his talent at a place he was not able to do so, the NCAA may have made it easier for him to profit off that talent at a place where he is able to do so (the NFL). Competing in a violent sport after already establishing yourself as the best amateur at your position is a risky bet with little reward. So the NCAA’s suspension of Gurley actually came at a very opportune time. Now he will be receiving a contract befitting a top ten NFL pick (not to mention endorsement deals) and his four game suspension is something of a distant, inconsequential memory. The incompetence of the NCAA seems to be on full display as their attempt to penalize someone whose only crime was profiting off his name completely backfired.

Hernandez Case Shows Hypocrisy of Race Baiters

As many now know, former New England Patriots’ tight end Aaron Hernandez has been found guilty of first degree murder, and sentenced to life in prison without parole. Hernandez was tried in a Massachusetts courtroom for the 2013 killing of Odin Lloyd, a onetime friend of his. Those familiar with the case know that Lloyd was a former semi-pro football player for the Boston Bandits. He was also black. Hernandez is of mixed-race heritage since his father is of Puerto Rican ancestry and his mother’s ancestry is Italian.

If the races involved in this killing are giving you a flashback, there’s probably a good reason. The entire country was swept up in the 2012 killing of black teenager Trayvon Martin by the half-white, half-Peruvian George Zimmerman. The civil rights establishment and other black advocacy groups were up in arms over the killing, and rushing to paint it as an example of extreme racial prejudice and profiling. When Zimmerman was ultimately found not guilty, it caused riots, marches and other displays of public outcry.

Despite these similarities, Hernandez’s killing of Lloyd was not met with the same public outrage from the usual suspects in the race baiting crowd. But why not? As with Martin-Zimmerman, there is a half-white, half-Hispanic man accused of murdering a black person. Why wasn’t Hernandez branded the full-fledged racist that Zimmerman was accused of being?

Sadly, the answer to this question can be answered with the associations Hernandez had made by the time of the murder. Even though Hernandez wasn’t black at all, many of his friends have been. In fact, two men that were also arrested for Lloyd’s death and charged with his murder, Carlos Ortiz and Ernest Wallace, are black. Hernandez’s fiancé, Shayanna Jenkins, is also black. Proving that a man with these kinds of close relationships with blacks was racially motivated to kill a black person would be a much tougher sell for the race hustlers in American society, rather than portraying that a neighborhood watch volunteer in a gated community was racially motivated in killing someone black. Thus, the Hernandez case, despite the publicity it got, was largely left alone by the people who screamed about the supposed racism of George Zimmerman.

Of course, this isn’t a surprise to most of us that follow the typical patterns of the race-baiting black leadership in America. Over 90% of the time that a black person is killed in this country, they are killed by another black person. But highlighting those cases would disrupt the narrative of the white oppressor vs. the black victim that these leaders want so desperately to promote. Not seeing blacks as victims of white oppression, but as victims of problems with their own communities and culture, embraces a responsibility that race baiters had always rejected. Therefore, the rejection of this responsibility would cause the assumption of it to automatically fall to whites rather than blacks. This is the mindset that the civil rights establishment must keep afloat today.

Ultimately, the lack of attention paid to the Hernandez trial by the black leadership was the result of the façade that must continue to be portrayed. Despite Hernandez not possessing a drop of black blood in his body, calling attention to the races involved in Lloyd’s killing would also call attention to the involvement of his two black co-conspirators. As a result, the entire paradigm of white oppressors and black victims would be challenged to an extent that the modern-day civil rights leaders would not be comfortable with. Since Zimmerman had no blacks involved with him in the altercation and eventual killing of Martin, portraying blacks and whites (or even mixed-raced non-blacks) in this manner was of no obstacle for those who are so eager to do it.

The Hernandez-Lloyd and Zimmerman-Martin cases show that even the slightest disruption to the race-baiter’s narrative can cause vastly different responses. The mere involvement of black people in Lloyd’s killing was enough to create a roadblock to his being the poster child for black victimhood that was so easily ascribed to Martin. If all black lives truly matter (as the newly popular saying goes), then the ending of Odin Lloyd’s life should have brought the same passion for justice as the death of Trayvon Martin. But sadly, thanks to politically correct agendas, it most certainly did not.

Grantland’s Pierce: Government Force Justified Unless Proof Exists of Prior Harm

In the midst of an article discussing the events from the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, Grantland.com writer Charles P. Pierce unsurprisingly used a sizable chunk of his platform to discuss politics. Specifically the bill signed by Indiana Governor Mike Pence (Senate Bill 101) that would (amongst other things) make it legal for businesses in the state to discriminate against homosexuals. With the Final Four coming to Indianapolis next week, Pierce’s concern over the attention paid to this issue boiled over.

Among this angry and degrading rant from Pierce, it was highlighted that Governor Pence “couldn’t come up with a single example whereby a private business had been injured in any way by catering to gay or lesbian customers.” Apparently this lack of an example is all that is needed to force a business to serve those individuals they do not wish to serve according to Pierce. So because a governor can’t think of an example of a prior instance of damage, hardship or inconvenience caused to a business owner who catered to a specific group, that gives the state the right to impose its will on any private business owner. Of course, what the state would be hindering would be the freedom of association. This is not only the freedom to freely associate, but also the freedom to not associate with whichever person or group you wish when it comes to your own property.

Demanding examples of prior injury as some sort of bizarre prerequisite to avoid government suppression of a basic right (like association) sets a dangerous precedent. After all, can someone’s Second Amendment rights be taken away as a result of a lack of proof that restricting their right to bear arms would injure them? If you can’t prove how the government’s domestic spying programs have hurt you, does that give the government the freedom to restrict your Fourth Amendment rights? Clearly a person’s freedoms do not depend on the ability of that person to prove to the government the extent to which denying those freedoms would cause them harm. But I guess Charles P. Pierce thinks otherwise.

Also, consider a scenario in which the governor (or someone else) was able to provide an example of prior injury due to catering to gays and lesbians. Would that one example be good enough for Pierce? What about two examples? What about five? Or maybe ten? I think you can get the point. If it is no longer legal to privately discriminate because there are no examples of prior injury in catering to a specific group, then the illegality of private discrimination is based upon that number being zero. But if one or more examples existed, then the basis of outlawing private discrimination evaporates.

Of course, rights are not based on prior incidents. They are inherent to us and recognized by our Constitution. Rights make it so that the burden of proof is never on us to secure our freedoms by demonstrating how we might be harmed if our liberty is taken away. Rather, it is government which must assume and respect the freedom instilled in all of us.

The Irrelevance of College Basketball in Developing NBA Talent

With college basketball’s conference championship tournaments in full swing and Selection Sunday approaching, an inevitable comment will be made at some point during March Madness. This comment, which will likely come from a studio commentator or broadcaster (last year it was Charles Barkley, who I otherwise enjoy listening to), will advocate for more basketball players to stay in college to work on their game. Unfortunately, many people hearing the comment will agree with whichever television personality utters it. The reason that this is unfortunate is because there is virtually no evidence that staying in college for the purpose of improving as a basketball player is a more effective option than trying to improve in the NBA or elsewhere. Those who believe college has a monopoly on player improvement have been badly misled or are lying to themselves.

First, let’s discuss a little background on this issue. In 1995, Kevin Garnett became the first high school player to enter the NBA Draft in 20 years. From then until 2005, 39 different players were drafted by the league out of high school. Negotiations began in 2005 between the league and the NBA players’ union on the proposal of a new age limit. The league wanted an age limit of 20, while the players’ union did not want the age limit to be changed at all. In July of that year, the two sides compromised to require draft entrants to be 19 and spend at least one year out of high school before draft eligibility. However, players are not required to spend that year in college.

The introduction of this new age limit has often caused top level talent in college to only spend one year there before leaving the school for the NBA. This phenomenon is often called being a “one and done” player. The frequency of these “one and done” players has become unpopular and controversial to the point that some, including new NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, have supported the league once again attempting to raise the minimum age requirement to 20. But what is the motivation for an elite player choosing to leave college after just one season? Well, the obvious answer would of course, be money. But the better question would be: what is the motivation in wanting those elite players to play in college longer?

One of the claims made by the proponents of requiring a lengthened stint in college is that playing at the collegiate level better enables a player to improve his skills. To believe this, one would have to conclude that improving as a player is somehow exclusive to those who play college basketball. Anyone who even remotely follows NBA Basketball should know that this isn’t true. After all, were high school draftees like the aforementioned Garnett and Kobe Bryant All Stars in their first season? No, they were not. In addition, the NBA’s Most Improved Player award has gone to a player drafted out of high school three times (Tracy McGrady in 2001, Jermaine O’Neal in 2002 and Monta Ellis in 2007) and a player only playing one year of college ball once after the new age limit was imposed (Kevin Love in 2011). Clearly NCAA Basketball does not have a monopoly on player development.

College basketball’s advocates somehow ignore how often the best NBA players are those who spent the least amount of time possible playing elsewhere before entering the professional level. From 1995-2005, players entering the draft out of high school accounted for three MVP award winners (Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant and Lebron James) and seven more who made at least one All Star Game (Jermaine O’Neal, Tracy McGrady, Rashard Lewis, Tyson Chandler, Amar’e Stoudemire, Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum). Since the age limit change, the best players are often now the ones who just play one year in college before entering the draft. From the 2006 draft to the present, players waiting the minimum amount of time before turning pro have accounted for two MVP winners (Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant) and five more who have made at least one All Star Game (Kevin Love, John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Kyrie Irving and Anthony Davis). Certainly a lack of exposure to the college game did not hold any of these athletes back from becoming an elite player.

Recent NBA history is littered with examples of players achieving success despite limited or no college and other players who succeeded during a lengthy stint in college having underwhelming professional careers. Perhaps the best example of this was during the 2004 Draft where the two best big men were Dwight Howard and Emeka Okafor. The size of the two players and the position they played were very similar (Howard is listed as an inch taller and 20 pounds heavier. Both were built as if someone had engineered them in a lab somewhere). However, the contrast between the collegiate careers of the two men could not have been more different. Howard, of course, had no collegiate career. He came into the NBA directly out of a private high school in Atlanta and was considered to be a “raw” talent. Meanwhile, Okafor had spent three years at the University of Connecticut which culminated with a National Championship victory and the award for the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four.

The Orlando Magic’s decision to draft Howard over Okafor with the number one draft pick was met with harsh criticism. Howard was almost an unknown whereas Okafor had succeeded on the biggest collegiate stage possible. During each player’s rookie season (2004-2005), it looked like the critics may have had a point. Howard did average a respectable 12 points and 10 rebounds per game. But Okafor averaged 15.1 points and 10.9 rebounds while picking up Rookie of the Year honors. Since this initial season though, a different story has emerged. Okafor never went on to average as many points as he did during his rookie campaign (mostly due to injury). He never made an All Star Team or any of the All NBA Teams. Conversely, Howard turned himself into one of the best big men of his generation. He made five All NBA first teams, won three Defensive Player of the Year awards and took his team to the 2009 NBA Finals. So much for Okafor’s college development making any difference at all when it came to competing at the NBA level.

As I mentioned earlier, the age limit that the league adopted in 2005 does not actually require a draftee to play college basketball. As a result, playing somewhere other than college remains and option. But how beneficial would playing somewhere else (like overseas) be to an aspiring future NBA player coming out of high school? Fortunately there is a recent example we can use to assess the possible benefits of this option. Rather than playing college basketball as an 18 year old, Brandon Jennings (one of the top high school prospects in the country coming out of high school in 2008) decided instead to go to Italy and play in the Euroleague. He then decided to enter the NBA draft a year later in 2009, when he was first eligible. Although Jennings isn’t a superstar, he was one of the best guards in his draft class and made the All-Rookie First Team in 2010. He has averaged a solid 16.6 points and 6.2 assists per game for his career and is still only 25. Perhaps skipping college is not such a bad move after all.

Despite all of the previously mentioned evidence that indicates the insignificance of college level player development, many still will not let go of their desire for an increase of the NBA age limit. So why is this the case? One of the reasons advocates give for an increased age limit centers on education. They make the claim that their desire to have college basketball players get an education is the source of their push for an age limit increase. Wanting someone to become better educated can certainly be a virtuous cause. But when it is claimed as motivation for increasing the NBA draft’s age limit, ulterior motives are almost always in play. If it really were the case that the supporters of a 20 year age limit cared so much about elite athletes getting an education, they would apply the same logic to elite athletes in other sports who attempt to turn professional rather than going to or staying in college.

A great example of a sport that shows this inconsistent philosophy is baseball. Often times the top level of high school baseball players choose to enter the Major League Baseball draft rather than attend college. In fact, in last year’s MLB draft, four out of the top six players taken were out of high school rather than college. But do you ever hear anyone lamenting over how horrible it is that great young baseball players are choosing against going to college and are entering the draft instead? If the number one baseball prospect coming out of high school this year (I looked it up, his name is Brendan Rodgers) chooses to enter the draft instead of going to college (and I’m sure he could go play wherever he wanted being the number one prospect in the nation), do you hear any complaining from the pro-college crusaders? But why not? Both a player entering the MLB draft out of high school and a player entering the NBA draft, either out of high school (when that was possible), or after just one year of college, are choosing the prospect of a professional sports career over being a student athlete. So why all of the crying into the night about basketball players taking this path, while baseball players taking the same path produce the sound of crickets?

The answer to the aforementioned question can be found in the love that people have for the game of college basketball. I’ve met many basketball fans throughout my life who enjoy college basketball more than NBA basketball. But I don’t think I’ve ever met a baseball fan who enjoyed college baseball more than Major League Baseball. The desire that people have in raising the NBA’s minimum age limit is really about keeping better players in college in order to improve the quality of play that the college game experiences. Since hardly anyone watches or cares about college baseball, elite players playing elsewhere and not improving the collegiate quality of play is of no one’s concern.

So I would encourage the proponents of raising the NBA’s age limit to be honest above all else. Stop telling us that a basketball player who develops his game in college is better off than one who does his developing in the NBA. It clearly isn’t true. Stop telling us that you are so concerned with young elite athletes becoming educated in college. If that were the case, then you would care about elite athletes in every sport getting a college education, not just basketball. In order to truthfully advocate for an NBA age limit increase, do so by telling us this:

“I love college basketball so much that I want to force players who are talented enough to become professionals, to remain at the collegiate level so that the college game becomes better than it would otherwise be.”

Somehow that doesn’t have as much of a ring to it as a developmental or pro-educational argument.

Will Money Taxed from Pacquiao’s Super-Fight be Enough for the IRS?

As probably all people who at least casually follow sports know, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao will finally be squaring off against one another on May 2. Many sports fans wanted the fight to first take place as far back as six years ago. But hey, better late than never, I guess.

What a lot of sports fans don’t know is that Pacquiao has been engaged in his own fight against both the IRS and its Filipino counterpart, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (looks like other countries have tax collecting monstrosities just like we do). The Philippine (where Pacquiao is from) Government levied a tax evasion case against him and is attempting to obtain the equivalent of 75 million US Dollars from the boxing champion. Meanwhile, the IRS has slapped on a federal tax lien for $18.3 million in allegedly unpaid taxes for 2006 through 2010. Pacquiao claims that a treaty between the US and the Philippines prevents his money from being taxed twice.

In his last fight, Pacquiao faced Chris Algieri in Macau, China rather than a popular US bout destination. As a result, he was able to save millions of dollars since his earnings were not subjected to the 39.5% US income tax rate for top tax earners. The combined tax rates of the Philippines (20%) and Macau (12%) still leave the fighter with a bigger payday than the one he would have had if the fight occurred on US soil. Pacquiao’s desire to avoid taxation does cause one to wonder why he campaigned for Harry Reid in 2010. Guess everyone is a conservative when it comes to their own money.

Perhaps the man known as “Pacman” would ideally want his fight with Mayweather to occur overseas as well. But given the enormous payday for both fighters, ($120-150 million for Mayweather, $80-100 million for Pacquiao) those concerns may have been dismissed. Consequently, the US government will be able to extract the full top tax bracket amount from each fighter as a result of the fight taking place in Las Vegas.

Given the amount of money that the US Government is about to receive from Pacquiao, it brings to mind the usual claims made on behalf of the state as to why taxes are collected. I’m sure that we are all familiar with these claims. But remember, Pacquiao is not an American citizen. His home is in the Philippines. So when assessing the government claimed reasons for wealth confiscation, consider the following questions while keeping in mind the amount of money Pacquiao will be giving to the US Government and that same government’s claim that what he has given isn’t enough (hence the $18.3 million lien).

• Will Manny Pacquiao ever receive Social Security? (I realize that he likely won’t need it since he’s a multimillionaire, but still).

• Will any of Manny Pacquiao’s five children ever go to a school receiving money from the US Department of Education?

• How often does Manny Pacquiao drive on an American road?

• Is a top priority of the US Military the defense of the Philippine coastline? (not that it should be). Or to put it differently, do Filipino Citizens feel safer as a result of the actions of the US Military?

• Will Manny Pacquiao or his family be able to receive Medicare or Medicaid at any point during their lives?

It isn’t difficult to see that Pacquiao’s return on investment for his American taxes is pretty horrible. He may as well have sat in a room with the IRS and said “I’ll have the biggest fight of my career here in the states and you can take 39.5% of my earnings while I derive virtually no benefit from the money you take from me.” Will the IRS then back off their harassment of the prize fighter as a result of this decisively one sided deal? My guess would be no.

If Pacquiao’s tax troubles haven’t caused you to feel sorry for him since he can get through it more comfortably due to being wealthy, consider that the IRS routinely harasses those who have far less wealth he does. And if one of the world’s highest paid athletes won’t be able to negotiate his way out of this harassment, what chance could the rest of us possibly have?

Government Does The Worst Kind Of Gambling. But Of Course, It’s Legal When They Do It.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver sparked some significant discussion back in November when he came out in support of legalized sports gambling. He submitted an article to the New York Times where he proposed that wagering on professional games should be legalized and regulated. These comments made him a revolutionary voice among other sports commissioners both past and present. So much talk was initiated by Silver’s opinion that ESPN devoted their entire February 2015 magazine publication to the debate by titling it “The Gambling Issue.”

Part of Silver’s reasoning for his new position stems from a desire to better eradicate some of gambling’s shadier characteristics rather than a support for every consequence that gambling may entail. In the aforementioned ESPN the Magazine issue, he is quoted as saying:

“One of my concerns is that I will be portrayed as pro sports betting…But I view myself more as pro transparency. And someone who’s a realist in the business. The best way for the league to monitor our integrity is for that betting action to move toward legal betting organizations, where it can be tracked. That’s the pragmatic approach.”

Of course, libertarians and other liberty minded people know this argument all too well. It is the argument they use to support the legalization of other vices that the government has criminalized. Their support for ending the drug war (for example) is more about taking power away from drug cartels and drug dealers through the same transparency Silver describes rather than championing actual drug use. Yet uninformed people will no doubt label Silver as “pro sports betting” just as they label those who advocate drug legalization as “pro drug use.”

But when one thinks about the audacity of a government preventing its citizens from engaging in voluntary wagers of their own money, it becomes easy to see the hypocrisy at play. First of all, Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines “gamble” as “to play a game in which you can win or lose money or possessions.” And of course, no one gambles with money or possessions quite like governments do. It’s easy to see why they do this. Since all money government has it obtained from other individuals, it is less likely that government will behave responsibly with it.

The examples of these failed state supported gambles with public money are numerous and seemingly never ending. Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) publishes his annual “wastebook” detailing the ridiculous programs the federal government spends money on. On the state level, boondoggles like California’s high speed rail, Seattle’s highway tunnel and Pennsylvania’s incinerator are only some of the more glaring cautionary tales.

Add to all of this the fact that the money spent to build the stadiums where the sporting events take place is often seized via taxation from the public. And so many times those subsidies are not even worth the return on investment.

So it’s not just that government gambles away money that initially belonged to other people. It also prevents those people from gambling on sports with their own money despite the fact that the facilities containing the sporting events are paid for by those same taxpayers. Perhaps it’s time for members of government to enter a gamblers anonymous program.

Olbermann Knows That This Wasn’t the Redskin’s Inaugural Season, Right?

There’s no question that this has, by virtually every measure, been a terrible NFL season for off the field issues. It would be hard for anyone to dispute this. The bigger indiscretions which dominated the headlines were mentioned as part of a four minute rant by ESPN’s Keith Olbermann in which he mentioned the reasons for why he doesn’t care about and will not watch this year’s Super Bowl. Here is the quote specific to these issues (said sarcastically, of course):

“Support the National Football League which brought you Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson and Ray McDonald and the racist team name in Washington and Roger Goodell, and all of them just this season.”

Olbermann is correct when identifying that the infractions committed by Rice, Peterson and McDonald were confined to this past year. Certainly the NFL didn’t “bring us” Goodell in that time. He has been the acting commissioner of the NFL since 2006. But I’d imagine that he’s referring to Goodell’s well documented botching of the Rice aftermath. So that at least fits. But to claim that the NFL “brought us…the racist team name in Washington…just this season” is pretty misleading.

The Washington Redskins were first established as a team in 1932. So if the nickname is truly racist, as Olbermann clearly believes it is, then it has been racist ever since then. The nickname did encounter some new opposition this season as both football studio personalities Tony Dungy and Phil Simms claimed they would no longer use the word “Redskin.” In addition, retired NFL referee Mike Carey said he didn’t work games involving the Redskins because he felt the term was “disrespectful.” But opposition from new sources hardly means that the team’s allegedly racist nickname somehow burst onto the scene this season above all others the same way that the Rice, Peterson and McDonald assaults did.

It doesn’t appear that Olbermann is so ignorant as to actually believe that Washington’s professional football team either didn’t have this nickname until this season or that somehow, the nickname wasn’t racist until this season. In the same video, he talks about how he has worked for NBC Sports and Fox Sports in addition to ESPN. Clearly, this overlapped with the Redskin’s existence that has spanned from 1932 until the present.

So why then does Olbermann falsely claim that the NFL “brought us” this “racist team name” during this season specifically? Well, notice how he places it strategically in the midst of other horrible occurrences that plagued the league this year. This is, of course, meant to stir up emotion about actual crimes of violence that took place either during the year or in the off season. Then, with you in this emotional state, Olbermann cleverly places a controversial issue he feels passionately about but has been an ongoing issue for a long time amidst these violent crimes. Perhaps he hopes that without actually thinking about it, his viewers will lump a controversial team name that has been in existence for over 80 years with women and children being beaten and act like they all somehow culminated in the same season when they clearly didn’t.

Sadly, Olbermann still could have mentioned the ongoing Redskins name saga along with the aforementioned instanced of violence as something that continuously acted like a thorn in the side of the league. But where he went so wrong was to present the name controversy as something that was specific to this NFL season when it is certainly not. All of us who follow the NFL can expect to hear more about this controversy as the years go on. What Olbermann said could have been accurate if he were to say something like this:

“Support the National Football League which brought you Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson and Ray McDonald all just this season. Plus, you can throw in the league’s ongoing drama with the racist team name in Washington.”

There’s nothing technically wrong with that statement (for the record, I’m not claiming that the Redskin’s name is offensive or not as I will save that for a future article). No implying that the nickname’s controversy was initiated this year or that the alleged racism of the name became an issue during this specific NFL season above all others.

Hopefully Olbermann’s future rants will be a little less misleading. I know, since it’s Keith Olbermann we’re talking about, this may be a little too much to ask.