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Today's word on journalism

Monday, November 5, 2007

On Objectivity:

"I still insist that 'objective journalism' is a contradiction in terms. But I want to draw a very hard line between the inevitable reality of 'subjective journalism' and the idea that any honestly subjective journalist might feel free to estimate a crowd at a rally for some candidates the journalist happens to like personally at 2,000 instead of 612 -- or to imply that a candidate the journalist views with gross contempt, personally, is a less effective campaigner than he actually is."

-- Hunter S. Thompson, from Fear & Loathing: CORRECTIONS, RETRACTIONS, APOLOGIES, COP-OUTS, ETC., a 1972 memo to Rolling Stone editor Jann S. Wenner, excerpted in the current (November 2007) issue of Harper’s Magazine (Thanks to alert WORDster Andy Merton)

Editorial: Football's bowl championship system needs major repairs

By Spencer Johnson

October 18, 2007 | If you ask any regular person about their position on the current BCS system, they probably wouldn't be able to tell you what the acronym represents, let alone their feelings about it. However, if you ask anyone who is either directly involved with collegiate football -- coaches, players, analyst or indirectly fans or former players -- they would more than likely express a sense of hate and disgust.

The BCS, also known as the Bowl Championship Series, is the determining factor in which who will compete in the top games at the end of the college football season. If a college football team could accomplish a combined record that reflects a winning percentage over .500, then they become what is known as "bowl eligible." They are granted an extra game against another random team, which is called a bowl game. Once a team is determined to be bowl eligible, they can accept a bid to a bowl game, which is decided upon the conference in which team participates in.

The top games are a part of the Bowl Championship Series, which include the Sugar Bowl, the Orange Bowl, the Fiesta Bowl, the Rose Bowl, and the National Championship.

Once the BCS started, people believed it was a foolproof system. People were excited because it was a well thought process and it now had the perfect way to decide who should compete for a championship. It involved numerous factors which included an AP poll, a Coaches poll and a computer average of various polls across the nation. It also included the team's strength of schedule, and losses counted heavily. Also, points will be awarded for a "quality win," which is a win over a team that has a high ranking.

After all these factors were averaged out, the two teams closest to a perfect 1.000 would be the participants in the National Championship game. The other four games would be determined by the champions of the "major" conferences, which includes the Pacific Ten (Pac-10), the Southeastern Conference (SEC), The Big Ten, the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), and the Big 12. They will each play an "at large" team which is selected from the next three top teams closest to the perfect 1.000 rating. The last spot is for the winner of the Big East conference.

With all these determining factors, it is a mystery why people believed that it was a good system to begin with.

Once the BCS began receiving controversy, the BCS committee began scrambling to fix things. The main problem was that computers can't watch football games, therefore how can they be part of decided who is eligible to compete for a championship? Also it didn't give the schools from the "mid-major" conferences much of a chance to be able to compete for a BCS bid, let alone a National Championship.

The main problem was how many flaws there actually were. In almost every championship game since the BCS has been in existence, there has been a disagreement about how is represented in the National Championship game. Also in every National Championship game, there has been a mismatch with the participants and this caused a lopsided game. These games that end up in a landside take interest away from the game and less people tend to care about it.

USA Today writer Jeff Zillgitt believes the controversy is all about money. A major argument was the teams that were forced to play in an extra conference championship game were in fact being punished for playing another game if they lost, whereas teams in conferences where there was no extra championship games were reaping the benefits. "Some will question why there's even a conference championship game in the first place. It comes down to money, more than any other reason. Money wields great power in this mixed-up setting," Zillgitt said.

There have been numerous people that have openly complained about this subject. There has even been discussion about doing away with the BCS and just have a playoff system in place of the current method.

Although Steve Wilstien from NBC Sports believes there is "no simple answer for the BCS controversy, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. A positive from the discussions is that there is a committee that was started whose sole job is to figure out how to improve the BCS system, if not change it completely.

In any case there is progress being made and anything will help the situation in my opinion. The BCS system is in shambles and needs to be repaired quickly.


Copyright 1997-2007 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-3292
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