The title of the story is "Political Heavy Hitters Take on
College Bowls." While it is true that those involved in Playoff PAC come from
political backgrounds their strategy when fighting the Bowl System is almost
entirely watchdog and public relations. The Times makes the mistake by
referring to Playoff PAC as a "
Playoff PAC has done a very effective job of being a watchdog which highlights IRS discrepancies and other issues with the professional Bowl organizations, but their workload so far doesn't appear to be resolving issues in Washington by supporting candidates or pushing influence.
Why does it matter?
It matters because there are elected officials and fans who would like to create legislation or deal with this politically but that's not a point so far in this fight. When a sports organization like Playoff PAC's activity is incorrectly labeled it allows for their opponents to disregard them. One bowl spokesman effectively did this is the article saying "They have obviously garnered a lot of attention for their cause, but sometimes it's difficult to tell exactly who they represent. What is their constituency?" A powerful statement which resonates with Congress and elected officials who may wish to support Playoff PAC but may also agree that they are unsure who they represent. An elected official will operate because of voter concern, if the voter concern isn't apparent then the elected official is reticent to act. This becomes more obvious in another Bowl response stating "All of us taxpayers are forced to deal with those tactics every two years at election time, and I find them distasteful." Another response which dismisses Playoff PAC for their obvious political shortcomings but doesn't respond to their role as an effective watchdog.
I don't want to take away from Playoff PAC's obvious successes, but this isn't the first time the media has confused the fight and it isn't the first time I've tried to clarify it. From time to time Congress has introduced legislation which has garnered little support and movement. If and when Playoff PAC or others decide to focus time and energy on the legislative/political fight then it is fair to characterize the feud as such, until then it does the opposite of influencing elected officials by simply confusing the principle players and issues.
Although many in the sports world would love to believe that any and everything can be labeled "political" and thus influence elected officials to action, this fight continues to be a lesson that sports lobbying isn't such a basic exercise.
(image - wikicommons)
(image - wikicommons)