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By Jeremy Schiffres, Daily and Sunday Freeman, Kingston, N.Y.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Keep your eye OFF the ball

It absolutely boggles my mind that the Judiciary Committee of the United States Senate is interested in investigating "Spygate" -- the who-gives-a-crap "scandal" in which the New England Patriots were caught videotaping coaches' signals on the New York Jets' sideline during the opening game of the 2007 National Football League season.

The Patriots violated an NFL policy, to be sure, and both the team and its head coach, Bill Belichick, were slapped with hefty fines for the offense. But how on Earth does this fall under the purview of the Senate Judiciary Committee?!

Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa. -- a man I respect and admire, by the way -- said the matter is relevant to the Judiciary Committee, on which he sits, because it could put the NFL's antitrust exemption at risk.


The league didn't violate any antitrust rules. In fact, it didn't violate any rules. The violators were the Patriots, and they've been punished. The matter is over and done with. It's time to move on.

Congress' job is to do the country's business, not police the nation's professional sports leagues. The now-infamous steroid hearing at the Capitol in March 2005 -- in which Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Curt Schilling, Jose Canseco and Rafael Palmeiro were called to testify about the use of performance-enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball -- was completely nonsensical, and so is the Senate Judiciary Committee's interest in "Spygate."

America today is burdened with two wars, a sagging economy, the ever-present threat of terrorism, a mortgage meltdown, a credit crunch and a general lack of trust in elected leaders. These are real problems that affect almost all of us. The unscrupulous behavior of some professional athletes and their teams affects virtually none of us.

Congress would do well to remember that.



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