Congress Commends Tainted Sports Stars

On January 10th, the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game will feature an exciting match-up between the 12-0 Oregon Ducks and the 13-0 Auburn Tigers. Cameron Newton, the quarterback who led the Tigers to an undefeated regular season, has already garnered several prestigious college football awards, including the 2010 Heisman Memorial Trophy for being the nation’s most outstanding college player. The House of Representatives even congratulated Cameron Newton for winning the Heisman Trophy.

While Cam Newton’s athletic achievements certainly merit some form of acknowledgement, the violation of amateurism rules by his father, as determined by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, is problematic. Considering that the NCAA had recently sanctioned USC, leading the BCS to vacate the Trojans’ 2005 Orange Bowl victory over Oklahoma, the potential disqualification of another Heisman winner and national champion cannot be entirely discounted.

Even if new allegations later emerge, Cam Newton can take comfort that the House of Representatives will never abandon him. Consider the cloud hanging over the USC football program. Despite the sanctions, the Trojans can continue to cherish their Senate commendation for winning the 2004 Bowl Championship Series national champion game. Sure, the BCS subsequently vacated USC’s Orange Bowl victory; however, I doubt if Senator Feinstein (D-CA) and Senator Boxer (D-CA) will be asking that the commendation be returned.

Other Sporty Commendations

University of Michigan’s interim Head Coach Steve Fisher and the Wolverine men’s basketball team. Senate Resolution 87 (1989) recognizes and congratulates the University of Michigan for winning the 1989 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship. Fisher later leaves the program in 1997 because of the University of Michigan basketball scandal. Oh Blue!

Barry Bonds. House Resolution 266 and Senator Resolution 178 (2001) congratulates Barry Bonds for “bringing distinction to Major League Baseball” and hitting 73* home runs. Of course, Barry got into a little trouble a few years later.

Mark McGwire. Senate Resolution 273 (1998) recognized McGwire’s then-historic home run record, his “leadership”, “family values” and help “to bring the national pastime of baseball back to its original glory.” By the way, McGwire denies that performance-enhancing drugs enhanced his performance. Senate Bill 2531 (1998) even designates a portion of I-70 in Missouri as the Mark McGwire Interstate Route 70.

Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. Senate Resolution 286 commended Mighty Mac and Slammin’ Sammy for their accomplishments, including the “unprecedented home run race,” their service as “role model[s],” and all the “magical moments” they brought the nation. Of course, a few years later, no one would still be calling them “modern day heroes who brought out the best in baseball” and who “gave our children sports heroes worthy of that status.” Instead, House Resolution 496 (2002) decried the “alarming increase in steroid use among children, who may be modeling their behavior after professional athletes.” Interesting, the politicians behind H. Res. 496 are perfect gentlemen and ladies–they did not name names. The resolution only includes an oblique reference to “2 retired Major League Baseball players, each having been a Most Valuable Player, [who] admitted to steroid use.” Understandably, these politicians were for athletes on performing-enhancing drugs before they were against it.