Tempest in a Teapot

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The sports world is fascinating. It is a complete culture in and of itself, and the cultural doyens of this niche have had their chins wagging mightily over the last week what with Michael Vick, Barry Bonds, and the Mitchell report on sports doping. Upon closer examination I find that it is much ado about nothing, yet the consequences of this circus should be disturbing to critical-thinking Americans everywhere, as it represents yet another degradation of the right to private property and concomitant right to freely choose private behavior.

The beginning of the week saw Michael Vick plea bargain a sentence for his alleged "criminal dog ring" activities. Michael Vick is a superstar, black quarterback, and was the franchise player for the Atlanta Falcons. He will lose millions by not playing while he is interred. It will cost him more in legal and caretaking fees to guard his estate, his wealth, and his family while he is gone. A double whammy for sure. He also loses two years of prime playing while he serves his sentence. The average career in the NFL is only four years so by that metric it is really a triple blow, a heavy penalty for sure.

What was Michael Vick guilty of? He was doing as he wished with his and his associate’s private property. They were having dog fights. Dogs are property in every state of the Union. Animals are not regarded as having any inalienable rights. They belong to their owners who are free to do as they please. Americans have never cared much for dog meat so dogs are not used for nutrition. Dogs are domesticated and inbred wolves. They are owned, and have no rights to own anything in return. Leona Helmsley’s dog did not get its inheritance because of this. It is the proper word; as dog is a thing, property in view of the law, not an individual with any rights. The bible says that God gave man sovereignty over the animal without limitation.

Michael Vick’s property rights were stripped, along with the rest of ours, when legislators and courts have deemed animals to have "rights." What these rights are, like so many things, are to be politically determined by the local DA and their cadre of taxpayer-financed associates. I think dog fighting is stupid and cruel, certainly in poor taste, but it should not be a crime. There are many corporations in America that execute millions of animals every day, horses, cows, pigs, chickens and turkeys as part of their ongoing and legitimate private business activities. Clearly the determination of what is proper and legal is a fungible concept following this reasoning. Meat packers treat animals as property, yet when Michael Vick does it, a serious crime occurs.

Baseball superstar Barry Bonds has been hounded by the steroid allegation for years. As he slowly but surely encroached on the home run record the allegations circulated. It has been noted by many talking heads that his home run production increased in his thirties when most big hitters decline. No one gives the man the credit he deserves for being the best that has ever played the game.

Physicist’s long ago proved that home runs come from the pitcher, not from the hitter. A home run hitter successfully inverts the momentum vector of the thrown ball. The kinetic energy of which, comes from the pitchers arm. The bat is elastic and on impact distorts. The sweet spot is the node of the elastic wave formed by the bat and the hitter. It is the point of zero movement on impulse and reverses the vector nicely (to the pitcher’s dismay). The antinode is the point of maximum deflection. It is where the label on the bat is and provides the sting of any hitter who has ever made contact there. Broken bats are often the result of this momentum transfer.

Barry Bonds finds the sweet spot, more often, on more pitchers, than any player in history. He has also won a few golden gloves as well. He is the consummate player, a real natural. The allegation that his home run rate and totals got better in the later years of his career, denies the obvious assertion that he got better over time (true of most skilled workers), and this denigrates both his proven ability, and his dedication to the game.

Former Senator George Mitchell has been investigating the usage of performance enhancing drugs in Major League baseball. The assertion is that usage is both illegal, and worse unfair. Nothing could be sillier. Sports doping is a victimless activity, and is only a crime since American politicians have been deeming spatial arrangements of bonded carbon atoms to have a morality of their own and a licentious effect on the populace. They have been defined to be evil incarnate.

It is a reasonable contractual relationship between employer (owner) and employees (athletes) for certain behaviors to be prohibited. Nude athletes are forbidden, but that is an easily verifiable objective contractual abrogation. Performance-enhancing drugs are an ill-defined concept, and as such, are quite fungible. As a result of this indeterminacy it is not the proper role of politics to determine what is and is not a drug. The truth is virtually every prescription "drug" has a mode of action that is actually unknown (if you do not believe me, read the fine print on the clinical trials results of your next prescription). Drug’s symptoms are known, their physical causes are unknown. Performance enhancing drug use by employees is ill-defined. To be suspected of something without proof is a violation of our constitutional rights to unfair search and seizure (a right that has faired rather badly over the last century I admit). Most drugs are detected indirectly via metabolite secretion into the blood, the urine and the hair. While there is a high correlation between ingesting and excretion, it is not absolute, as the enzymatic machinery of the liver produces thousands of metabolites on an ongoing basis, the upstream source of which is difficult to prove.

Performance enhancing drugs are available to all; there is no better way to level the playing field for everyone. Any momentary advantage will be quickly spread thanks to modern communication technology. It is only when they are subjectively denied that an unfair advantage accrues to the secretive cheater. Given the rich rewards available to superb athletes this has the effect of tilting the playing field, that the sports talking heads so assiduously want to level.

Former Senator George Mitchell is a private citizen, and as such his investigation carries no more merit than my assertion that whales speak French at the bottom of the sea. It has no proof, it is all conjecture, and third-party assertion, a rumor. Gossip is not admissible in a court because it carries no weight as evidence.

Barry Bonds and Michael Vick are both superb athletes that have never given much truck to the sports media hysteria. They are private men and they protect their private lives which are after all private affairs of free citizens, and thus no one else’s business. They did not court the media hyenas, and as a result will pay a stiff price.

This degradation in the boundaries of proper and legal behavior should concern all Americans. The sports world is a tempest in a teapot, it is entertainment, a luxury good of a free society. Yet when property becomes personage, and the inanimate gains morality, the enforcement of which is political, and fungible, another threat to freedom advances its cause. That is a tempest that threatens all of us, our lives and our property.

George Giles [send him mail] thinks heavily, drinks heavily, and makes many heavy notes in Nashville.

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