I should know better than to allow myself to be sucked into sports talk radio. The hosts usually have, at most, a casual fan’s knowledge of most sports and, besides, most seem to get their information and opinions from the morning newspapers. That’s certainly true here in Cleveland and, I suspect, most other towns.
But the national sports talk shows are supposed to be different. In theory, the hosts have achieved some level of accomplishment and credibility that puts them closer to if not quite equal with the print reporters that cover sports on a daily basis than the average bozo fielding still another call from the suburbs about whether or not he thinks the Indians will be able to re-sign C.C. Sabathia.
Listening to ESPN’s Mike Greenberg on Mike & Mike In The Morning this past Monday rant again and some more about the New England Patriots allegedly spying on the opposition has officially started me thinking otherwise. According to Greenberg, who sounded just a tad unhinged, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell should open up for full public view the league’s continuing investigation into the Patriots and what former Patriots video camera holder and part time golf pro Matt Walsh might or might not know.
Greenberg’s view essentially is: he’s a season ticket holder for the New York Jets, this issue goes to the integrity of the game, and, consequently, he and the rest of the ticket-buying public are entitled to transparency as to the inner workings of the league.
Let’s dispense with the easy stuff first. The NFL, the last time I looked, was still a private enterprise. It certainly isn’t a government agency nor is it even a publicly-held company. The fact that it enjoys an antitrust exemption (under the Sports Broadcasting Act of 1961, so that its teams can pool their rights and negotiate collectively with the various networks that show their games) provides no hook, Specter's posturing notwithstanding. The league simply has no obligation whatsoever under that law or any of the various other laws that govern these things to publicly disclose anything, whether it’s Goodell’s salary or who the league hires to clean the rest rooms at its headquarters in New York. That doesn’t mean it can’t publicly disclose such matters and it often does. But undertaking that task on some items doesn’t require it to do so on others.
As for Greenberg’s bizarre sense of entitlement by virtue of his lousy investment in Jets season tickets every year, it’s a great populist justification, but it opens up a slippery slope that I’m not sure even he wants to traverse. Whether he likes it or not, his status, such as it is, doesn’t give him an entrée into the executive offices of the Jets, let alone the league, any more than buying a Prius gives him an entrée into the CEO’s office at Toyota. More to the point, the fact that my monthly cable bill includes a hefty charge for the various ESPN channels doesn’t entitle me to understand, let alone weigh in on, how the various ESPN executives decided to discipline their employee Dana Jacobsen after she acted like a high school sophomore taking her first swig of vodka at the Mike & Mike celebrity roast this past January.