Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Kristi Noem And Johnny Manziel: A Minor Musing About Autographs And Money

I have spent too much time over the last six weeks listening to sports talk radio. Actually, most of it has been sports scandal talk radio. Former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez has been arrested on a murder charge. Major League Baseball has suspended Alex Rodriguez and over a dozen other players without pay because they used steroids or other performance enhancing drugs. Philadelphia Eagles receiver Riley Cooper was caught on a cell phone video angrily using a racial slur. Finally, Heisman trophy winner Johnny Manziel has confirmed many stereotypes about both the rich and the jocks as he has partied through the summer. Manziel is currently being investigated by the NCAA for accepting $7,500 for autographing memorabilia.

I thought about Manziel this morning when I read Cory's post about Representative Krisi Noem auctioning off an autographed cowgirl hat. As a college kid, Manziel is getting room and board, an education, access to training staff, and health care on someone else's dime. As an elected official and recent college grad, Noem is getting a paycheck, health care, office space, and money to hire a staff on the taxpayer's dime. Like Manziel, she was  probably has a few years of eligibility. Unlike Manziel, she doesn't risk losing eligibility because she will personally gain from auctioning off the autographed hat.

I don't have much sympathy for Manziel. Everything I've read about him makes me believe he's a spoiled brat. Still, it seems ironic and somewhat moronic that Manziel whose goal is to help Texas A&M win football games and earn himself an National Football League contract can't profit from his signature or likeness. Noem, who is supposed to represent all South Dakotans, can sign anything she wants and auction it off. If she doesn't want to risk the vagaries of an auction, she can demand $500 from voters to sit in the same room she is and eat rubbery chicken and overcooked asparagus. She can demand another $500 or $1000 dollars from voters for the opportunity to shake her hand. She can round out the package by charging another $500 for an autographed bumper sticker. Manziel can do none of those things.

I doubt autograph  money will corrupt a rich college kid like Manziel any more than it will a politician like Noem. Although he may make a few Aggie fans cry, it's doubtful that anything Manziel can do will cause anyone serious harm. On the hand, Noem can cause a great deal of harm if she works to benefit her financial supporters at the expense of others in South Dakota. 

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