Skip Bayless is prone to saying stupid, stupid things on First Take, but when both he and Jay Crawford supported the idea that if you make millions playing in a professional sport, that you automatically forfeit your right to medical privacy and that baseball (and by extension, other professional sports) is a “public trust,” it was beyond the pale of rational thought.
Baseball is only a “public trust” in the loosest sense of the term, because the ownership and the league executives so brilliantly ensured an anti-trust exemption from Congress. This, tied in with the usual flowery writings of the poetry of the game by writers who ought to know better, continues the “American pastime” rhetoric that professional sport would be better off if we completely excised it altogether. This gets nationalism and ersatz patriotism wrapped up in our entertainment. (Let me be clear: I don’t have any problem with the national anthem at sporting events, and the same goes for dedications or tributes to military folk serving abroad.) This is how you get Congress, which has much, much better things to be doing with its time, blowing several days on steroids in pro sports — for the good of the children, whose parents apparently cannot do the basic work of telling their progeny to not use steroids or most other recreational drugs.
Sports and politics intersect daily as part of the fabric of American society, but let’s own up to it: this is entertainment. It is run by corporate bodies. It is not any sort of fucking “public trust.” Just because fans are paying the million-dollar salaries of players does not mean those same players ought to give up their medical records to the public record and submit to blood tests without some safeguard that their medical privacy — which all of us have — is ensured in some manner.
The worst excuse you can give me right now in response to this is: “But, I signed papers when I took a job that I would voluntarily submit to drug testing or be fired.” Right. So did I. But that’s a private corporation telling you that it will not hire you if you do not agree to it. There’s a trade-off. If you work in the public sector, the government has similar agreements. MLB has a drug policy. If it would like to step it up and take that stance, it’s free to do with in negotiations with the MLBPA — negotiating for players to submit to unannounced urine and blood tests in order to play in the league.
The “public trust” sentiment behind those implications is foul, a disgusting assertion of authoritarianism in violation of the basic privacy rights we have in this country and still have thanks to our justice system. Yes, for the comfort of the never-satiated mob, I will give up my rights to have my medical records private. I will sacrifice my individual rights for the whole, which says that if I have nothing to hide, I should be more than eager to submit to the demands.