Over the years, the US government has maintained a “hands off” approach with regards to involvement in sports. This is based on the premise that privatization of professional sports is the best thing for the country. However, a cursory look into international sports will make one appreciate why governments get involved in sports. First of all, sporting events have an important place in any society because sporting is a cultural phenomenon. In addition, nothing beats the sense of pride and unity when athletes competing in international events win a medal for the country. As a consequence, sports help to promote a sense of community and goodwill. This assists in uplifting flagging spirits and in instilling national pride. Moreover, sports provide an opportunity to express a country’s sense of nationhood and unity.
A look at some Asia and gulf countries should provide a sufficient justification on why governments should get involved in sports. These countries (especially Malaysia and Singapore) are using sports to promote economic growth and gain profile on the international scene. With their entry into the Grand Prix circuit, Malaysia and Singapore have emerged as potential sporting countries. Other countries have traditionally used public authorities to play a role in sports by delivering facilities such has stadiums and training facilities. A good example is Germany which spends around three billion Euros for facilities every year. Recently, a number of national and city governments have been helpful in funding the staging of sports events. For instance, the South African government spent a lot of money to build stadiums when preparing to host the 2010 World Cup.
Despite these compelling examples, critics have come out to complain that the government should not be involved in sports. However, in the wake of Lance Armstrong’s doping scandal, government involved in sports is long overdue. The government intervenes in industries like banking and insurance with the intention of streamlining the sector for the common good. Therefore, it is only fair that the government gets involved in sports to reinforce its vision of the society. For instance, through congress, the government can set up drug policies that regulate the use of Perfomance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs). The government promotes adherence to the rule of law, fairness and equity, and it can only be fair if it cracks the whip (against the use of PEDs) pursuant to the aforementioned values.
Through federal regulation, the government would institute a thorough and uniform testing and impose stiff penalties for those who fail the test. First, it is a federal crime to possess and distribute certain PEDs. Secondly, the government has a moral and statutory obligation to deter the use of illegal drugs, which include some PEDs such as steroids. If statistics from other countries is anything to go by, the government is well placed to fix the problem. For example, Australia has the Australian Sports Drugs Agency, and it is one of the finest programs in the world. The agency protects Australia’s sporting integrity by eliminating doping. In a similar fashion, the US government should not sit back and watch professional players as they take illegal drugs because this is likely to affect the outcome of games, and influence the behavior of young athletes. Government involvement in sports will not only assist in protecting the integrity of the country’s sporting, but also assist in nurturing young talents within the country; these are two goals which the country cannot let slip under its arms.
Jozsa, F. P. (2003). American Sports Empire: How the Leagues Breed Success. Wesport, CT: Praegar.
ProCon.Org. (2008, June 11). Should the US Congress be involved in setting drug policies for professional sports? Retrieved January 31, 2012, from Sports and Drugs: http://sportsanddrugs.procon.org/view.answers.php?questionID=001227
Walmsley, D. (2010). Sport and the role of government: Strategies for successful public-private partnerships . London: SportBusiness Group.