Don't Touch That Dial

(CBS)
Lawyer Andrew Cohen analyzes legal affairs for CBS News and CBSNews.com.
Like many other fathers and sons, my boy and I watch a lot of baseball on television during the summer. I tune out the commercials but he doesn't and I know it is only a matter of time before he turns to me and asks me solemnly what Viagra does or why taking this pill or that pill could cause "a decrease in semen" or various other things to the male body that, truth be told, I'm not sure I even want to think about much less discuss with my kid.

Indeed, you cannot watch a major sporting event in America these days without being inundated by commercials by drug companies asking you to talk to your doctor about a certain kind of remedy. We once had commercials for aspirin. Or for Alka-Seltzer—plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is. Now we have long commercials for a thing called "restless leg syndrome"—warning, taking the medicine could cause you to become dizzy when standing up—and countless other potions designed to make the average sports viewer—male, I guess, and certainly not my son's age—healthier and happier.

And, thanks to federal rules and regulations, the makers of these products have to disclose as much as they can about the side effects of their medication, which is why all those warnings come in at the end of the commercials. The earnest voice tells you all the bad things that can happen if you take the medicine which is supposed to cure what happens to be ailing you. After about the 10th commercial, after hearing the parade of horribles over and over again, unless you are a total anti-hypochondriac you feel like you have a tumor and are about to implode.

I'm quite confident you feel the same way. So why am I bringing up this decidedly non-legal topic? Because of a thoroughbred horse named War Emblem. A very expensive horse named War Emblem, the winner of the 2002 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. A Japanese breeding outfit bought War Emblem a few years ago for $17 million hoping he would be a brilliant stallion over there. Turns out he's not. In fact, he's been an absolute disaster.
In the current edition of the Blood Horse magazine, Michele McDonald tells us the horse for the second consecutive year has failed to "cover" any mares—failed to produce any offspring. She writes: "The nearly black son of Our Emblem is in good physical condition at age eight 'but his mental condition is not so good,' said (the breeding firm's) spokesperson Eisuke Tokutake, referring to the stallion's lack of interest in mares. Shadai has tried many tactics, including letting War Emblem choose a mate from a large group of in-season mares presented to him simultaneously, but most efforts have been to no avail."

You see where I am going with this? Learning about War Emblem's "problem" got me thinking. How about airing more of those Viagra commercials in Japan and fewer over here during ball games? How about figuring out a way to help out poor War Emblem and his sad-sack investors instead of inundating my kid with endless pitches for medicines he's hopefully not going to want or need for another half-century? My son and I don't need salvation from "restless leg syndrome"—what Seinfeld's Kramer more appropriately called "jimmy legs." My son and I need salvation from being blasted with a medical lecture every time we want to see how our Red Sox are doing.

  • Andrew Cohen

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