Sunday, September 11, 2011

The NFL and federalism

The start of the football season is finally here. Normally I'd be driving to my dad's house so we can watch the Dolphins play. But they are playing on Monday night against the Patriots. So I don't have to worry about finding a place to watch the game. That gave me time to think of the semi-monopoly DirecTv has on the NFL and how it relates to federalism.

DirecTv isn't the only place you can watch you favorite team, which is why I call it only a semi-monopoly. If you live in the same area your team plays in you can either go to the game or watch it on local tv. Though if not enough people go to the game you may not be able to watch it on local tv. So even if you don't have the money to spend on a ticket you are dependent on enough people having enough money and wanting to go. Relating this to federalism, this scenario is like if you are a very conservative person who lives in a very conservative state. For the most part you are happy that your state makes conservative policy and the cost of getting those policies is low because everyone agrees with you.

If you don't live in the same area as your favorite team, or if you are a very liberal person living in a very conservative state, you are left with fewer options that you can choose in order to satisfy your preferences. For the football fan, you either have to pay DirecTv about $50 per month for 6 months (and that's not even the HD package) or drive to a bar and hope they are showing the game you want. The bar option isn't too bad. Its a pain in the ass to have to get ready and drive somewhere, especially with gas being so expensive. But it is a cheaper option than DirecTv, though without the comfort of your own home.

For the liberal in a conservative state, you options are limited as well. If you want gay people to get married or more restrictions on how easily people can buy guns, you are going to have a very difficult time getting those policies passed. Frankly, its not going to happen. So your only realistic option would be to move to a more liberal state. This is one of the more common arguments that I have heard from people who endorse a more states centered view of federalism. And its one that I have addressed before by pointing out that moving (or voting with your feet) is a very costly and inefficient way of seeking the freedom you want.

Like the high cost of paying DirecTv in order to see any game you want, it would be very costly to quit your job, sell your house, find a house in the place that holds the same political beliefs as yours, and find a job in that area. That's a big burden to place on someone who, by chance of birth, was born in a place that doesn't hold the same political values as you and thus forces you to be less free than them simply because people think a state has the right to do so because they don't like the federal gov't.

I'm not sure what anyone can do about the NFL and DirecTv. And I'm not necessarily saying anything should be done. But in regard to federalism and the concept of freedom, the federal gov't can do more when a state doesn't uphold someone's freedom. And the conservative approach of just letting states do what they want while telling people to just pack their stuff and leave if they don't like it is conducive to leaving a lot of people out of the loop.

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