Emperor Goodell And The Advantages Of Dictatorship

Up until the United States started turning around its military fortunes in World War II - in the Pacific at Coral Sea (a draw, but the first time in the War that the Americans turned the Japanese back from an objective) and then Midway and in the Atlantic with the ultimate success against German U-Boats - there was a line of thought that dictatorships were the wave of the future. Germany and Japan had arguably come out of the Great Depression faster. Moreover, for the first two years of the War, their armies - the product of militaristic governments that did not accept dissent - seemed invincible. It seems strange to say now, but there were real questions being asked in the 1930s and early 40s as to whether Western-style democracy was the best way to govern a modern nation.*

If you want a modern illustration of this line of thinking, then look at Roger Goodell's response to the Saints Bounty Scandal.

As a college football fan, I am used to interminable investigations. Inevitably, a college football scandal starts with Charles Robinson of Yahoo! reporting that a program has engaged in wrong-doing. Then, the NCAA meanders its way through an investigation, talking to whomever is willing to cooperate, before scheduling hearings on the sanctions. As set forth in NCAA v. Tarkanian, the NCAA needs to provide due process to the teams before it. Additionally, because the NCAA lacks subpoena power, investigations can take a long time. The Reggie Bush case took years because it took a civil suit against Bush to produce evidence that ultimately damaged USC. Ditto for the Ed Martin Michigan case, a matter that lingered interminably until Martin was investigated and prosecuted by the FBI.

Although I am loathe to admit that the NFL is better than the NCAA in any respect, I have to admit that I like Roger Goodell's dictatorial powers in this respect. It took Goodell three weeks from the time that the bounty story broke to come down on the Saints and when he did, he made the NCAA look tepid by comparison. One year for Sean Payton, eight games for Mickey Loomis, an indefinite suspension for Gregg Williams, a pair of second-round Draft picks, a fine, and presumably player suspensions to follow. In other words, Goodell brought quick, decisive justice that demonstrates that he is as hard on management as he is on labor. While we didn't get the vacation of the 2009 championship or a post-season ban, these punishments seem appropriate for the offense.

If you prefer pop culture to history, imagine political themes of the Star Wars prequels. The Republic is the NCAA: ineffective, unable to deal with crises, ruled by bureaucrats, and with an outnumbered enforcement staff. The Empire is the NFL: ruled by one supreme leader who metes out justice at his own whim without the interference of pesky elected representatives. Now, if only someone can convince Goodell to don a black robe and shoot lightning from his hands at Gregg Williams.

Or maybe I just like dictatorship today because it came down on the Falcons' arch-rival.

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