- Thursday, April 15, 2010 10:19 AM
- Written By: Steve Silver
I promised myself when I started this blog that I would not talk about politics.
Even though anonymous posters, emboldened by the cloak of a witty username, can somehow find a way to turn a 7-10 split or a missed free throw into a debate about socialism, I never wanted to be the one injecting politics into a sports story.
Today I am breaking my own rule, however, after reading this Associated Press report about Congress’ latest waste of time -- banning chewing tobacco from Major League Baseball.
Yes, forget about the recession, high unemployment, healthcare reform and those two little things called wars we are fighting on the other side of the world, because our elected officials are more worried about what professional baseball players are putting in their mouths.
To recap, “At a hearing Wednesday, House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Henry Waxman, a California Democrat, and Health Subcommittee chairman Frank Pallone, a New Jersey Democrat, called on baseball and its players to agree to bar major leaguers from using chew, dip or similar products during games.”
To get this out of the way now, I do not chew, I have never tried it and I never will. I think chewing is one of the most disgusting habits on the planet.
Yet none of that means I want Congress wasting its time on chewing tobacco in baseball or any other sport.
Actually, a little known fact is that probably more professional hockey players chew than baseball. When I lived on the Las Vegas Wranglers’ team bus last year, I’d say about half the team chewed nonstop.
Back to the point, why is Congress so worked up about this issue? And why now?
None of this makes any sense.
Sure, I get the whole “we don’t want little kids emulating their MLB heroes and sticking chew in their back pockets” thing. That is partly why MLB players are not allowed to smoke in uniform and why chewing tobacco is banned in the minor leagues.
Newsflash for our lawmakers -- the use of chewing tobacco is still rampant in the minor leagues (I’ve witnessed it firsthand) and you all really struck out hard on the steroids issues.
Frankly, if the taste of chew, the massive health problems it causes and the fact that no respectable girl will kiss you after chewing is not enough of a deterrent, then nothing Congress says will stop a 12-year-old from picking up his first pouch.
My favorite out-of-touch quotation in this story comes from Anna Eshoo, a California Democrat, who asked, "Why don't they just chew gum if they feel the need to chew something?"
I don’t know, Anna, why don’t baseball players just eat more protein rather than inject themselves with steroids if they need to grow bigger muscles?
My real issue with all of this is that it leads to a slippery slope of moral judgments on our athletes and the influence they have on children.
Will Congress ban tattoos and piercings next?
If they are so worried about health risks, I think Congress should take a hard look at the fried food served in public school cafeterias instead of what professional athletes put in their bodies.
By the way, happy tax day. Great to know your dollars are funding meetings like this one, right?