December 10, 2009

House subcommittee votes for college football playoff

The AP reports:
A House subcommittee approved legislation Wednesday aimed at forcing college football to switch to a playoff system to determine its national champion, over the objections of some lawmakers who said Congress has meatier targets to tackle. "What can we say - it's December and the BCS is in chaos again," said the bill's sponsor, Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, the top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. He said the BCS system is unfair and won't change unless prompted by Congress.

Glad to see Texas Republicans have their priorities straight! (Barton represents part of Fort Worth, where undefeated TCU, which was shut out of the BCS national title game, is located, but not Austin, where undefeated Texas, which is in the title game, is located.)

Isn't college football, an extremely expensive zero sum endeavor, interesting enough without a playoff system? What could be a better use of rich Red Staters' philanthropy than constructing ever more state-of-the-art weight rooms?

I also have an aesthetic objection to a national championship playoff. National championships are great for less viscerally appealing sports. But football's appeal is that it's the game closest to war. My hazy impression is that English villages started playing some ancestor of football (and its cousin sports) about the time they stopped making war on each other. Instead of besieging your neighbors and sacking their town, you challenged them to a mass melee game involving propelling a pigskin, as a way for young men to enjoy some of the fun of war without too much maiming, raping, and pillaging.

The traditional model of college football that emerged by the mid-20th Century reflected a rather 18th Century balance-of-power version of war, in which teams engaged in set-piece battles with traditional regional rivals, and the ones who did best this year were invited to an intersectional exhibition game on New Year's Day. But, like in an 18th Century European war, there was no single overwhelming winner and everybody else a loser. Half the teams finished their seasons with a victory. Everybody had something to look back upon gladly and something to regret.

So, while a playoff system makes perfect sense for NCAA badminton or whatever, increasing the emphasis on Complete Conquest and Final Victory in our national war game strikes me as distastefully Napoleonic. Of course, lots of people liked Napoleon. For a century, he was the most popular delusionary identity in lunatic asylums.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

23 comments:

Dutch Boy said...

Ah, the priorities! The country is circling the drain and these bozos are sticking their noses into college football!

Anonymous said...

I am totally ticked off that elected representatives bother with something as unimportant to society as this.

My border is being overwhelmed, groups of illegals are standing on street corners in the morning oogling girls going to school, the idiots Pelosi and Reid are ....well, doing idiotic things, the deficit is growing and growing, unemployment is horrendous, we await the results of increased troops in Afghanistan....and this is what they do?

There is no hope.

Anonymous said...

I am torn between anger that they're wasting time on this crap and relief that they're temporarily *not* monkeying around with something important and fragile.

Anonymous said...

I am torn between seething anger over border chaos and really wanting to see a TCU, Texas, Cincinnati, Boise St final four.



Dan in DC

OhioStater said...

That would be a fun bracket to fill out.

meep said...

If messing around with this stupid stuff keeps Congress from messing with real stuff more, I'm all for it.

AL said...

I was appalled to see "(R-TX)" after the name of the idiot sponsoring this legislation when the story broke earlier this week. His motives are obviously local, but this seems like a very poor strategic move for Republicans whose best hope is to draw contrasts between their policies and the constant meddling and micromanaging of the Dems.

jody said...

the NCAA should work out a playoff for NCAA football so i don't have to hear about it anymore.

i'm not understanding steve's objection to a playoff though. every sport that cannot do a meet format, has a playoff format. both systems produce a champion.

wrestling, boxing, kickboxing, and MMA, all of which are FAR more like an actual fight than a 5 second american football play, each have a system to determine a champion.

soccer, which leads to actual war, has a playoff system.

Anonymous said...

From Norman, OK: There's no need to have an actual national champion determined on the playing field. The mythical one, determined by the AP poll, was fine. It kept more focus on conference titles and bowl trophies. It provided smaller, regional pinnacles of achievement, for more teams, rather than just one national pinnacle, and was better for the long time fans of particular teams, than for flighty fickle fans of college football in general. Most teams will never compete for a national title, but can have a shot at one of the smaller pinnacles.

Anonymous said...

"My hazy impression is that English villages started playing some ancestor of football (and its cousin sports) about the time they stopped making war on each other."

Your Wodehouse is showing. This impression probably came from "The Ordeal of Young Tuppy" in "Very Good, Jeeves."

Steve Sailer said...

"This impression probably came from "The Ordeal of Young Tuppy" in "Very Good, Jeeves.""

Thanks, I was wondering what the name of that story was where Bertie gets roped into a village vs. village football game.

Matt G. said...

This seems representative of the ethos of our times. Submission to a centralized authority which will plan and regulate from the top down. We must have an ultimate winner, the corporate sponsors demand it. I enjoyed the decentralized aspect of pre-BCS college football, when the teams were more representative of their respective states or regions. Now most teams have rosters loaded with players from Florida and Texas and seem to play the same style of offense. I don't care for NFL football because it is so homogenized. And yes its pathetic that these morons in congress are actually focused on this.

Anonymous said...

leave it to psmith is the best wodehouse,ever

Anonymous said...

The BCS has reduced the old favorites to meaningless games. Screw around with something enough and you will inevitably kill it.

AmericanGoy said...

I am glad that our politicians priorities are in order.

In case you didn't figure it out yet, the elites make us, the dumb, clueless cattle, focus on wedge issues, which seem important but are just distractions.

Example: this crap, gay marriage, 10 commandments display, bankers' bonuses.

These are covered endlessly in the media and the masses riled up.

FISA, Patriot Act, government spying on us quite openly, WMD in Iraq (or lack thereof), the relevance of Afghani goat herders to American geo-strategic position (snicker), the destruction of the middle class by inflating (destroying) the $$$... not so much.

mnl said...

To be clear, this legislation is NOT directly about, does NOT require, and does NOT directly propose a college football playoff. I know that's how the press is describing it--and a playoff may indeed be the BCS' decision in response. But the bill is actually about preventing an organization (e.g. the BCS) from promoting a post-season college football "national championship" when such a game or process does not truly generate a national champion. One may only use the term if all conferences are allowed to compete via a playoff system. Call it a congressional waste of time if you will, but also call the bill for what it is: an aim at preventing a form of false advertising.

Right now, the BCS (Bowl Championship Series) is largely about money--money earned from the promotion of a so-called "national championship" series. The BCS is furthermore structured so that a subset of conferences exclude other conferences from sharing in this bowl revenue. Given this fact, the BCS could be challenged on anti-trust grounds (though I suspect a long, drawn-out antitrust judicial process would be more expensive than legislation).

The possibility the BCS can fail at naming a true "national champion" has long been a fact (e.g., Utah walking over Alabama last year; Boise St beating Oklahoma the year prior) but now with TWO undefeated non-BCS teams (Boise St. and TCU) the illusion has become an ugly pimple ready to pop for all to see.

The BCS solution? Pit Boise St. and TCU against each other in the Fiesta bowl so that at least one loses. This is akin to inviting them to the BCS "dinner" but seating them in the other room at the kiddie table. It keeps their squabbling from upsetting the "adults" in the other room who are engaged in more valuable business and can't be interrupted. It satisfies the minimum requirement while avoiding the embarrassment of either one beating a top BCS team.

The legislation allows the BCS to hold the very same structure and bowl arrangement if they want to. But it calls shame on the sham by preventing them from calling it a true "national championship."

David Davenport said...

wrestling, boxing, kickboxing, and MMA, all of which are FAR more like an actual fight than a 5 second american football play, each have a system to determine a champion.

Wrestling, kickboxing, and MMA -- that's that kickboxing inside a pen they show on cable channel 91, right? -- are gay ... all that rolling around on the mat with each other.

"Kickboxing" is for wannabes who can't compete in real boxing.

Anonymous said...

But the bill is actually about preventing an organization (e.g. the BCS) from promoting a post-season college football "national championship" when such a game or process does not truly generate a national champion.
ahh now that you have cleared that up, I change my mind, I no longer see this as a frivialous waste of time and am glad to see our politicians concentrating on 'the things that matter'

Jason said...

I wish Sailer would quit busting the balls of old white men who spend insane amounts of money on their respective universities football programs. Is it a waste of money...depends on who you ask, but it's THEIR money. It's none of our business how others spend their money whether it's $3 on a toy for our spoiled kid or $3M on a weight room for our spoiled alma mater.

jody said...

""Kickboxing" is for wannabes who can't compete in real boxing."

vitali klitschko was merely an above average kickboxer, but when he switched to boxing, he became one of the best boxers ever, in absolute terms. he'd KO most of the historical figures in boxing simply because he's 6-7 and 240 and knows how to use his reach and size, and most of the "greats" were 6-0 and 200 and would get clobbered. not to mention that they competed in an era when half of the world was not even able to become professional athletes due to communism.

i'll leave it others to argue the matter of whether vitali is among the "greats". but he'd have no problem beating many of the other "greats".

vitali would lose decision after decision in the K-1 tournament, though. that's pretty obvious from watching his kickboxing videos, and seeing his level of ability there versus in boxing. he would get outstruck pretty regularly.

manny pacquiao was also a good but not great kickboxer. K-1 even made a new promotion for small, weak men like manny. they call it K-1 MAX and the weight limit is 155 pounds. but that would not help him much, because he would still get TKO'ed in the K-1 MAX tournament. not decisioned - TKO'ed cleanly. things change a lot when you are allowed to grab smaller, shorter men and knee them in the face.

jody said...

ok, i don't care about NCAA football, but, if the BCS is about money, then how does having a playoff not make them MORE money?

you put the best 8 teams, or best 16 teams, in a playoff, and the rest of the teams with winning records still go to bowl games. in that system, you end up with EVEN MORE post season games, generating even more money. instead of playing a single post-season game, top teams end up play 2 or even 3 post-season games. more games, more television, more tickets, more money.

what's the objection here? the ludicrous idea that a playoff "would take the student-athletes out of class for too long"? that's something which none of the adults in charge of the NCAA give a damn about, not for one second. over half of the NCAA football players are not students anyway, so what's another 3 weeks "away" from classes that they don't attend anyway?

Faust said...

Yikes this is a sickening waste of time... there is no good reason why Congress should even be thinking about college football playoffs much less writing a law on the subject...

Anonymous said...

ahh now that you have cleared that up, I change my mind, I no longer see this as a frivialous waste of time and am glad to see our politicians concentrating on 'the things that matter'

You really believe that this Congress is going to spend its time solving problems you'd prefer to have solved, "solving" them in ways you'd prefer to solve them?

May they spend the whole of next year debating the merits of a college football playoff. It's a shrewd move by a Republican to keep a Congress owned by Democrats from wasting too much of your money.

you put the best 8 teams, or best 16 teams, in a playoff, and the rest of the teams with winning records still go to bowl games...what's the objection here?

Sixteen teams means 4 additional games for the two eventual finalists, instead of the usual one. That's a lot of extra wear-and-tear on players who don't get payed squat.