As the college football season winds down fans everywhere are debating over what schools should be #1 & #2 (the schools who will eventually battle for the coveted 2014 NCAA Football Championship). Without a playoff system in place (not until next year), the scoring evaluations that determine what schools will play for the championship (FSU, Ohio State, Auburn, or one of the other schools) is comprised of some objectivity (win-loss records) but a lot of subjectivity (how the schools stack up in the polls). This is nothing new to college football, as this debate is one we see almost every year. Still, is it the worst thing in the world?? While subjective scoring is always controversial, it also provides for the dreaded/welcomed debates sports fans love/hate!
Polls vs. Playoffs
Unlike other sports that use an objective scoring system (head-to-head playoffs), college football has up until this year relied heavily on opinions (subjective poll voting). Some voters believe strength of schedule is the biggest factor, while others believe an undefeated record should trump all — regardless of strength of competition.
Beginning with the 2014 college football season a playoff system will be introduced and provide an objective way of crowning future champions determined by on-field play, not votes. Will this move eliminate debates and controversies? Probably not, but it will take away a lot of the ambiguities and likely lessen the craziness in picking a champion that we see today.
As sports and technology advance, it’s likely we will continue to see more objective measures introduced in sports. We are already seeing more instant replay (for better or for worse), and new techniques like punch-stats in boxing that allow for a better precision of landed punches. Still, it’s hard to imagine a day where baseball umpires will be replaced altogether by computer line markers (like what we see in tennis), or gymnasts to be objectively scored by computers as opposed to being evaluated by humans prone to bias and error.
The Love – Hate Relationship with Polling
Subjective scoring is the ultimate conundrum in sports when you think about it. Voters and polls almost always lead to debates, bias, and controversies; but it is often these very elements about voter opinion that intrigues us and prompts us to keep watching and cheering.
Watch what you ask for, college football fan, as you might just get it. Objective, head-to-head playoffs are coming, but you might actually come to miss all of the joy of voter gaffes, blunders, and outright bias in the future. Yes, the polls aren’t always fair, and the ways in which teams are currently ranked can be boring and difficult to understand (see the BCS statistical model for more on this). But isn’t this the fun of it all? Yes??
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