On November 16th, the House of Representatives rejected a bill that would have forced the formation of a federal regulatory body which would have attempted to address some of the ills that infect the savage science.
The scorecard read: 233 against the bill, 190 for the bill which would have forced the formation of a three-person commission to regulate the sport.
The commission would have overseen the sport in the US, making sure federal and state laws were being adhered to. The bill would have forced strict licensing of all boxers, managers, promoters, matchmakers, judges, refs and the much-maligned sanctioning bodies, and the commission would have had the power to punish wayward operators if they veered off the straight and narrow path.
Also, insurance and pension benefits for those in the industry would have been on the top of the commission's To Do List. But brace yourself, now. Get the paddles ready because you may be shocked into a cardiac arrest when you learn that basically, voting was split along party lines.
Care to guess which party wanted to establish an agency that would have the best interest of the poor bastards who punch each other for pay and our amusement in mind? If you guessed the party which controls the House and Senate currently, the one that refuses to concede that health care in our nation is a sick joke (one that 46 million people who do not own health insurance don't find funny), comprised most of the 233 against, give yourself a hand.
Yes, it was the party of the Haves, The Have Mores and Want Mores, the party By The CEOs, For The CEOs who shot down the bill, a version of which had already gotten through the Senate successfully.
The reason? How about the spin version first. You're up, Congressman. "This is a big government bill. It creates a new federal agency that provides for more regulation and is not self-financing," said Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis.
Sensenbrenner, actually, does make it his mission to eliminate waste in government, so his explanation may hold water. But as for the other 232 naysayers, what was their excuse? Most of them would rather see the rich stay rich, so the wealth can continue to trickle down to the poor pricks who weren't so lucky as to be born with a silver spoon planted firmly in mouth. Kanye West touched on it; those overfed, overpaid, conscience-free politicians don't care about the underclass and many, to be frank, don't care for them.
Too many see service in government as a means to line their pockets to the point of popping. While building their ill-gotten empires with insider stock tips, they maintain their severely sanctimonious public personas, thinking maybe if they convince themselves that they are doing the right thing, they may be able to fool St. Peter into letting them in. But really, they want the balance of power to stay as it is in boxing. Out of the hands of the poor saps who deserve it most, and in the hands of the mega corporations and power players who know the power of the well placed campaign contribution. The 233 will tell you that money trickles down to the rank and file the way it should in the free market of the fight game, and really, government should mind its own beeswax.
A part of me gets that last part. You saw how the federal government, elected officials installed by the people, for the people, dropped the ball when presented with the opportunity to act with compassion, conviction and competence in New Orleans three months ago.
Check that--a ball needs to be picked up before it can be dropped, and led by bungler extraordinaire Michael Brown, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Feds never picked up the ball. They punted it and passed it around, as thousands of Have Nots in New Orleans prayed to be rescued from the swamp that used to be a city. When presented with a chance to react with a measure of benevolence, the Feds instead fiddled about, constrained by bureaucratic sloth and indifference.
So might a federal commission do more harm than good to our sport? It's entirely possible. Politicians now, more than ever, craft their stances according to polling. If a focus group determines that boxing should be abolished, and an elected official within the Department of Commerce, which would house the federal commission, wants to make a splash...well, the sport in need of a transplant might instead get put out of its misery. Don't underestimate the innate need for many of these politicos to drift whatever way the wind blows, if the wind will bring with it a few more votes.
The effectiveness of that theoretical federal commission would be mostly dependent on the personnel installed. Would the appointees be like so many administration hires, frat buddies from the class of 1976, with resumes having zero to do with boxing? Would Brownie be doing a "heckuva job" as boxing czar? Under this administration, that's more probable than possible. But the winds of change have been blowing harder, and with more indictments sure to follow, and the spurious reasoning for the Iraq invasion coming to light, my guess is that the repudiation of HR 1065 is a blessing in disguise. Come 2006, there exists a real possibility that the Senate and possibly the House return to a Democratic majority. I like the chances for a federal boxing commission in that atmosphere, after some of those 233 naysayers hear "nay" from voters, and some people with purer intentions and motives are on the job.