Thursday, December 9, 2010

Is the BCS Legal? New column

I have a new SI column on the legality of the Bowl Championship series. Here's an excerpt:

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The BCS also arguably enhances competition through its use of empirically-influenced rankings. Each team's BCS ranking is a composite of three equally-weighted components -- the USA Today Coaches Poll, Harris Interactive College Football Poll (which comprises 114 voters, including former coaches, players, and journalists) and an average of six computer-based rankings that incorporate largely objective measurements, such as won-loss record and strength of schedule. To be sure, this arrangement is complex and partially opaque -- private companies that run each computer rating can shield their formulas from public scrutiny. Nonetheless, the use of factual criteria to complement the subjective impressions of coaches and journalists can be viewed as a positive: they are designed to improve accuracy and fairness.

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The best antitrust argument against the BCS is its blatant limitation of automatic bowl bids to the six BCS-affiliated conferences (and Notre Dame, which is not a member of any conference). Champions from the five non-affiliated conferences can only earn bids in very limited conditions and lack guarantees of bowl appearances and accompanying revenue and publicity. The BCS, however, could respond that this arrangement is designed to most efficiently maximize overall fan interest, since the BCS-affiliated conferences tend to be larger and with wider fan bases.
To read the rest, click here.