Envy and jealousy, antitrust fun and games edition

This is the best variation of “doesn’t the Justice Department have better things to do with its time than go after the BCS?” I’ve seen, bar none.

The Justice Department has had little to say over a series of impending mergers that will limit competition and drive up prices for cable television and cell phone services. AT&T’s acquisition of T-Mobile and Comcast’s acquisition of NBC/Universal haven’t raised too many concerns among federal anti-trust watchdogs.

Those investigators are hot on the trail of another entity that, while an anti-competitive monopoly, poses little threat to the average consumer.

DOJ investigators last week asked the NCAA to explain why major college football is the only NCAA sport that does not have a playoff…

And that’s the lede from an anti-BCS editorial.  Well played, indeed, folks.

About these ads

17 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs, Envy and Jealousy, Political Wankery

17 responses to “Envy and jealousy, antitrust fun and games edition

  1. TennesseeDawg

    Would you expect anything less from the federal government?

  2. Matt

    I’m afraid I have to disagree with you, Senator. I think this piece is way off base. The DOJ conducted an extensive investigation of the Comcast/NBCU deal, demanding production of millions of pages of documents, at a cost to the parties (and the government also, presumably) of millions of dollars. That resulted in a consent decree which set out several conditions to allowing the merger to proceed, including licensing programming to online distributors and others. Upon closing the investigation, the DOJ released a press release, which can be found here: http://www.justice.gov/atr/public/press_releases/2011/266149.htm

    The AT&T/T-Mobile deal is so new that an investigation is only just beginning, but it is guaranteed to be of similar character – lasting months and costing millions, likely resulting in divestitures.

    By contrast, they have sent the NCAA one letter, and while I haven’t followed the story closely and might be wrong on this, I’m not even certain if it was the DOJ who leaked the letter publicly. If I were the NCAA and had the choice of what kind of DOJ action to choose, I’d certainly choose what they’ve done so far on the BCS question instead of with the other two deals, wouldn’t you? This strikes me as incredible narcissism on the part of the authors of the piece. Just because major media outlets don’t pick up a story and run it on the sports pages doesn’t mean the DOJ has had “little to say” about it.

  3. Matt

    The BCS, to be sure. I’m not arguing that point. I’m suggesting that the effect on the consumer of each is proportional to the amount of effort the DOJ has expended investigating it.

    • The DOJ may have spent more time (at least so far, obviously) on the Comcast and Sprint matters, but did you ever think the ultimate outcomes were/are in doubt? We don’t live in an era when many big mergers like those get shot down on an antitrust basis.

  4. Matt

    Perhaps that’s true, but I’m not sure what relevance it has to my point. The article says the DOJ is expending an enormous amount of effort “hot on the trail” of the NCAA for allowing the BCS to continue to exist, while it has “had little to say” over the Comcast/NBCU and AT&T/T-Mobile transactions. My point is that this is an incorrect, irresponsible characterization. The sum total of the actions that convince them to describe the DOJ as “hot on the trail” of the NCAA is a single letter. By contrast, the DOJ conducts extensive, months-long investigations of the two merger transactions, resulting in millions of pages of documents produced and millions of dollars spent, and the authors of the article characterize this as “little to say.”

    I think it is fair to question why the government is spending time working on the BCS. I just think portraying the DOJ as more concerned about the BCS than two enormous merger cases when the facts indicate otherwise is irresponsible.

  5. W Cobb Dawg

    I won’t argue whether the feds have better things to do than check into the ncaa – of course they do. But I am worried that things are getting out-of-hand with the ncaa and cfb. The org looks more crooked by the day. One only need look at awburn winning the mnc with scam, or the issues at Tosu, or the fiesta bowl, or schools that sign 38 f-ing LOI’s. Somebody needs to set things right, and if the feds are the only ones willing to do it, then so be it.

    Begin-rant: the problem with this country right now is we’re inundated with white-collar crooks, AND the people in power who are willing to look the other way while crimes are committed. They’re running roughshod over the general populace. We need an honest f-ing sheriff who’s going to put things straight! End-of-rant. Sorry to get off subject. No offense to any readers, unless you’re a crook.

  6. Cojones

    I agree both with Matt’s eloquent and lucid words as well as W Cobb Dawg’s vehement words. Why don’t you use their words as fodder for your cannon and address the collective insult by the NCAA to all our sensibilities of fairness? Making the Feds out to be the intrusive bad guys isn’t going to fly with many Dawg fans since the actions of the NCAA toward UGA recently hasn’t been one we are willing to allow that old saw (big bad gov) to overcome. How about ripping the NCAA until we get some sense of fairness concerning Tressel State University and others flaunting the rules and deceitfully tweaking the noses of the member schools? We then can discuss the intrusiveness of the DoJ if the need is still there.

    • You don’t think I’ve been sufficiently critical of the NCAA? Really?

      • Dog in Fla

        With blog titles like the following:

        I’m trying hard to take this seriously.
        Chinese water torture
        Does the NCAA have a sense of humor?
        Suggestion for Mark Emmert
        Sometimes, the NCAA just makes me want to puke.
        They’re coming to see you.
        The NCAA, making the rules up as they go along
        Cheaters never prosper.
        “Even the SEC has higher standards.”
        The NCAA: making it up as they go along
        Whoever said honesty is the best policy never dealt with the NCAA.
        Let them eat cake.
        We’re from the NCAA, and we’re here to help. No, really.
        Mark Emmert, flailing away
        Are schools getting better at gaming the NCAA’s rules system?
        I’ll take “Things You Probably Shouldn’t Say If You’re NCAA President” for $200, Alex.
        The NCAA, where ignorance of the law IS an excuse
        While I’m on the subject of the NCAA…
        Only we can do that to our pledges.
        The NCAA, proudly protecting amateurism from amateurs
        Mark Emmert doesn’t think we can handle the truth.
        Does Mark Emmert celebrate Festivus?
        Mark Emmert and the urgency of doing nothing.

        it’s a safe bet that your level of being critical of The NCAA was at peak readiness

        http://blutarsky.wordpress.com/category/the-ncaa/

    • shane#1

      If the Feds don’t look into the NCAA who will? Trustees? College Presidents? Delany and Slive? Please! All of them want those big fat TV checks and who watches all that money?

  7. Aious

    I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that this site and so many others refuse to actually LOOK at the documents that DOJ has filed and/or what the DOJ is actually going after

    This idea that they are simply wanting a playoff is…I mean, it is so absolutely off-base and laughable, that I wonder why they are even discussing the matter.

    As someone who works with the DOJ, these people do not spend time going after corporations or companies without a significant public interest issue. In this instance, the millions to billions being spent at public institutions and money running around that is in fact a public issue. People can disagree or cry about it but that doesn’t really matter as it still is in fact an issue worth reviewing.

    Go figure that if another party was at the White House and this happened, I would be shocked to see most crying the way they are at the federal governments involvement.

    Funny how that works

    • W Cobb Dawg

      If it’s not clear from my previous comment, I’m pleased with the feds looking into the ncaa – though I don’t pretend to speak for other Dawg fans. If the current party in power can clean this cesspool up, count me as a supporter. One caviot: get tough and clean the mess up now, don’t pussyfoot around for months and/or years. Pretending to do something is the same as doing nothing.

    • Where did you get the idea that I think the DOJ’s goal is to establish a playoff?

  8. Cojones

    The NCAA has been ripped to the point that we have some sense of fairness displayed? Not in my mind nor the thoughts presented by some Dawg fans on these blogs. I’m talking about a 4th qtr gutsy push to force an earlier timing of NCAA’s Aug 12 announcement. Further investigation into rental loaners, etc. have lain on the table for years. Why should the NCAA’s 11th hour decision to investigate separate offenses be a put-off for Tressel’s and the players offenses concerning collusion in coverup and lies? Think about it. This problem began before the beginning of last August’s practices. While AJ’s problem began by some rival dropping his name as having visited an agent’s party in Miami in the summer and spread to his bank account and then punishment for him having sold to an “agent” at the beginning of our schedule , Tressel and his players are yet to be punished for offenses that occurred simultaneously. The efficiency of investigation and application of punishment on AJ and UGA was rather rapid when you consider that we have known of the OSU player’s transgressions for twice that long. Why can’t they act earlier in this case and tack on punishment(s) as other transgressions are discovered and investigated? The NCAA didn’t announce that AJ and UGA wouldn’t continue to be investigated when they handed down their punishment.

    My input to this blog has been wrapped in the word “fairness” , not technical excuses of ongoing blather about what the NCAA now has their noses into at Tosu(Saw this the other day and think these initials describe the situation well-sorry I don’t remember to whom to give credit) . Why can’t the outcry of the fans push this date forward if a sense of fairness is to be expressed?

    Thanks for your interest and ongoing articles, but I’m implying an ongoing onslaught on this subject by Bulldogs who are ready to fight a 4th qtr push and to let the Tosu coach and guilty players know what tenatious means. Getting an earlier answer from the NCAA would be suitable to quell some of our ire.