Virtual Voices

BCS stupid and unjust

Sports

The college Bowl Championship System is a joke. The wild ending to this year's college football season proves once again that the BCS computer ranking system is incapable of choosing the best teams to play for a national title. We are actually no better off than we were before the benign system was put into place in 1998. Gene Wojciechowski at ESPN.com comments on this season:

By sheer accident, nothing more, Ohio State and LSU will play Jan. 7 in the Allstate BCS National Championship Game. A few days ago it was supposed to be Mizzou vs. West Virginia. And before that, Kansas vs. LSU. . . Nobody is playing better than OU, Georgia or USC right now. But it's Ohio State, with its puppy fur-soft nonconference schedule and so-so Big Ten quality, that was chosen for New Orleans. Interesting, since the Buckeyes didn't register a win against a top 20 team at the time they played. At least inconsistent LSU mostly survived a killer conference and won its league championship game.

Wojciechowski's right. Ohio State is playing on the platform of a fatally flawed system. Chaos.

Perhaps a little moral philosophy might help. David Schmidtz in his book The Elements of Justice reminds us that pursuing equality along one axis will produce inequality along another. Using a computer program to crunch a few random stats to increase "objectivity" has done nothing but decrease, if not obliterate, rationality. As such, the best performing teams do not actually play for the national title. There is absolutely no reason Ohio State should be playing for the national championship--no, not even one.

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Here's a puzzle: Why is it that high school football, professional football, college basketball, professional basketball, and so on, all have playoff systems but, for some reason, the NCAA can't figure this out for college football? We learn something important here if we're honest: the NCAA does not want a college playoff system. The profit machine will not allow for college football playoffs so, friends, stop dreaming.

Gregg Easterbrook over at ESPN.com says we must remember this about the BCS: "the system is not designed to choose a final victor! The BCS is designed to maximize revenue and exposure for the major conferences. And the BCS does that very well, thank you."

So the winner of the LSU/Ohio State game will not actually be the "national champion" in college football. Instead, the winner will be the champion of a computer-driven, nationwide, fantasy football league run by coaches and sports journalists. And friends, we have the privilege of being mere spectators. After all, who cares if the best teams never play each other at the end of the season? What really matters is that certain schools get the best exposure for student recruitment and increased donor support, right? Pathetic.

When do the NFL playoffs start?

Anthony Bradley
Anthony Bradley

Anthony is associate professor of theology and ethics at The King's College in New York and serves as a research fellow at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty. He is author of Liberating Black Theology. Follow Anthony on Twitter @drantbradley.

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