Q: Should the government be involved in sports and entertainment?

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A: Maybe a little, to help provide some support and protection for the people who work in these fields as well as the audiences—but that's about it.

Sports are a huge part of our culture, from school-age competitions to amateur leagues to the pros. As is the entertainment industry, from video games to movies and TV to theater and dance and other art forms. I don't know that government has a big role to play here.

Certainly there are some questions about support: is it a good thing that schools, for example, have athletic teams? That seems fine as long as the kids are safe and the experience is positive overall. But at the same time, without well-trained coaches and staff, school athletics can result in serious injury. Without sufficient oversight, school athletics programs have become places of systemic harm to children. There is a role for government to address this both in prevention and in response when things go terribly.

On the other hand, highly successful operations may be getting too much support. The NFL, for example, was a non-profit until 2015 [1]. This surprises many people, given the profitability of the teams and the surrounding landscape of broadcast and merchandising.

In entertainment, there are of course general questions about worker safety which seem especially salient to Hollywood. This is an industry with incredibly difficult working hours on long shoots and people attempting to capture stunts and effects on camera that represent significant risk to life and limb. As with any business, employee protections are important.

But there is also the question of audiences. For movies, the rating system (G, PG, PG-13, etc) is entirely self-managed. The industry has its own organization that scores movies, and nobody knows who sits on that board or exactly how they do their job [2]. But broadcast radio and television is handled by a government agency, the FCC. They have rules about what can't be said or shown during the hours of 6am to 10pm, and they issue fines accordingly [3].

The logic, I believe, is that kids can tune into a broadcast but they can't get a movie without help from a parent. But that seems to be leftover from a time before the Internet.

This may be the area where there's the most potential (good and bad) for the government to be involved: entertainment delivered via the Internet. And there's been effort, but it's hard to say if it's been successful [4].

With all of these questions about sports and entertainment, no one is at greater risk of injury or harm than children. And no one is in a better place to help keep those kids safe than their families. So while government can provide some resources and support, it seems that families (who know their own kids best) need to maintain the primary responsibility.

Government can help, but mostly, it's up to us.

[1] https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/nfl-ends-tax-exempt-status-after-73-years-3-things-to-know/. Also, hockey (the NHL) and golf (the PGA Tour) are still non-profits. Congress has considered changing this.

[2] https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2006-jul-02-ca-mpaa2-story.html

[3] https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/obscene-indecent-and-profane-broadcasts

[4] Wikipedia has a good overview of the original 1987 law which had some provisions struck down. And while there are requirements for some libraries and schools to use “web filters” as part of the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA), it's not clear if these actually work.

q_sports_and_entertainment_101.txt · Last modified: 2023/06/12 09:31 by rslaughter