Should Rush Buy an NFL Team? Why Not?
This is the question on the lips of both sports aficionados and political pundits alike this week. Rush Limbaugh is looking at the possibility of purchasing (or at least co-owning) the National Football Leagues St. Louis Rams franchise. At the heart of the controversy are a number of comments Rush has made over the years which some observers felt were racist in nature, particularly one 2003 show where he said that some people in the sports media were overly interested in seeing Donovan McNabb succeed because he was an African American quarterback. (For the record, I always thought McNabb was overrated, no matter what his skin color is.)
I should state right up front that I don’t listen to Rush. (This may come as a shock to some of our more liberal readers who assume I’m a member of a vague, conservative boys’ club which must all march in lockstep, so I’ll give you a moment to grab the smelling salts.) I find Rush to be an unabashed hyper-partisan with no interest in fairness, frequently incorrect, and in general… a blowhard. But Rush is an entertainer, no matter how much that statement may enrage some of my conservative friends. Much like Howard Stern, Ed Schultz or any other radio talking heads, he has a lot of time to fill and a lot of advertising space to sell. He does this by being as shocking as possible and appealing to the more base instincts of a niche audience, albeit a rather large niche. The man has every right to make a living and he seems to do so quite nicely. I just don’t care to listen.
But should his comments and opinions bar him from spending his money as he chooses and purchasing a sports franchise? I don’t see why. It’s a business, and as such, anyone with the money to do so should be able to bid on it, providing they don’t have other interests (owning a competing team) or criminal problems (e.g. sports gambling, etc.) which would preclude such an investment. If Rush wants to buy the Rams, I say go for it.
Of course, the fans and players are equally free to express their displeasure with his ownership if they wish by voting with their feet and wallets. In fact, a number of players have already come out and said that they would leave the game of football altogether rather than play for a team owned by Limbaugh. This is, as I said, their right as well. Nobody is forced to play, just as nobody is forced to buy a ticket and attend the games. It’s similar to the Eagles when they chose to put a convicted animal abuser in as their backup quarterback. It’s their right to do it and it’s our right to root against their team and not attend their games if we object.
Rush Limbaugh is a controversial figure and there’s no doubt about that. But I’ve yet to hear any convincing argument that he shouldn’t be able to invest his money in that business interest if he wishes. Let’s not confuse partisan political arguments with private investment, folks.