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Brooks Wilson's Economics Blog: The BCS Is Under Bipartisan Busybody Attack

Monday, February 1, 2010

The BCS Is Under Bipartisan Busybody Attack

Every year a slew of unhappy fans claim that their favorite college football team was unfairly excluded from BCS college football national champion game.  Politicians feeding into that discontent, either from a ghoulish desire to ride populist discontent or an earnest desire to serve disgruntled constituents, propose government action to reform the BCS.  The latest effort is described by an AP writer for ("Justice Dept.: Obama administration may take action on BCS," Jan 29, 2010).
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Obama administration is considering several steps that would review the legality of the controversial Bowl Championship Series, the Justice Department said in a letter Friday to a senator who had asked for an antitrust review.

In the letter to Sen. Orrin Hatch, obtained by The Associated Press, Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich wrote that the Justice Department is reviewing Hatch's request and other materials to determine whether to open an investigation into whether the BCS violates antitrust laws.

"Importantly, and in addition, the administration also is exploring other options that might be available to address concerns with the college football postseason," Weich wrote, including asking the Federal Trade Commission to review the legality of the BCS under consumer protection laws.

Several lawmakers and many critics want the BCS to switch to a playoff system, rather than the ratings system it uses to determine the teams that play in the championship game.

"The administration shares your belief that the current lack of a college football national championship playoff with respect to the highest division of college football ... raises important questions affecting millions of fans, colleges and universities, players and other interested parties," Weich wrote.
I oppose the busybody, partisan attack for at least four reasons.  First, a playoff system may not do a better job at selecting a national champion as James Hamilton explains here.  The BCS is adaptive and has repeatedly demonstrated that they are a profit maximizing organization.  If there is additional profit to be had in a playoff structure, it will make its way to college football.  Third, President Obama, Senator Hatch, and the staff at Justice have better things to do than fix a nonproblem.  Isn't a War on Terror fought on two fronts, trials of terrorists, 10% unemployment enough?  And most important, it is not the government's role to attempt to fix every problem, some should be beneath their notice.  Let individuals and private organizations solve their own problems; their track record is better than yours.  If the BCS has violated antitrust or consumer protection law, it is the law that should change, not the BCS system.  

1 comment:

  1. I completely agree with your post. What is the government doing sticking their nose into football? Leave it alone! There are MUCH bigger issues to deal with. Well, I guess at least it takes some time away from the healthcare reform issues.