College Football

The College Football Playoff & How It Contradicts America’s Political Ideals

Most college football fans got what they wanted, well sort of*, when the BCS presidents approved a four-team major college playoff back in June.

I’ve been a proponent of the status quo ever since I started watching college football, but I’m also a man of the people, and the people overwhelmingly wanted a playoff of some kind. Over the years, several major polls have shown significant support among college football fans for a playoff to replace the BCS – 90 percent wanted a playoff in a poll mentioned here and 63 percent wanted to get rid of the bowl system in a study mentioned here.

It’s only a matter of time until the bracket “creeps”

It’s hard to argue with the numbers and I’m not writing this to argue whether or not a bowl system is better than a playoff. Nor am I here to argue for the Left or the Right, but what baffled me though was the lopsided support for something so “Liberal” in nature.

The old post-season system was seen as shutting out the “little guys” from winning the biggest prize and having access to the biggest bowl games. In political terms, this pretty much aligned with the Democratic beliefs that the government should play a role in alleviating poverty and social injustice.

The BCS conferences and the teams included were seen as some sort of College Football Cartel and those that favored a playoff attacked the presidents of these schools and their persistence on keeping the status quo. I mean, why would they want to overhaul the system? When you’re one of the 68 teams** that has a legitimate chance of winning the title, why would you want to allow the 56 “have-nots” to the party?

Usually this is what we see when small businesses seek a level playing field but not with college football

Republicans often oppose policies that tax the upper-class. They also aren’t as keen to back policies that try to counter the effects of a history of discrimination (i.e. affirmative action). In college football terms, the “class” that was “discriminated” against would be the mid-majors and the “policy” to alleviate this discrimination is a college football playoff. It’s a loose comparison, but bear with me here.

The Liberal nature of the playoff movement isn’t what bothers me. It’s the amount of support for a playoff when the ideals don’t match up with the majority of the U.S. when looking at political beliefs and affiliation.

The following statistics from show that Americans are equally split with where they lean in terms of Left or Right ideals:

  • More Americans continue to identify as Democrats than as Republicans, 31% to 27%.
  • Despite the Democratic advantage in party identification, proportionately more American independents lean to the Republican Party than to the Democratic Party. Thus, when independents’ party leanings are taken into account and combined with the party’s core identifiers, the parties end up tied. In 2011, 45% of Americans identified as Republicans or leaned to the Republican Party and 45% identified as Democrats or leaned Democratic.

So with America being split in terms of Democrats and Republicans, why was there such overwhelming support for a playoff? A playoff system that was so Liberal in nature? Is this a case of selective Liberalism?

The contradictions don’t stop there. Republican Senator Orrin Hatch famously went against the Republican ideals of keeping the government out of business (or college football here) when he called for an investigation of the BCS.

Ignore everything I just wrote. The University Presidents realized they’d basically be printing money with a playoff…

Of course, I could just be thinking way too hard about this and maybe college football fans just want to increase the chances of their school reaching the title game and they love brackets. That, and the university presidents finally realized how much money they left on the table by not having a playoff sooner.

*See “Bracket Creep” or just think of any playoff in any sport that HASN’T expanded. I won’t get into it on this post but here’s something to think about: The No. 8 team last year was 10-2 K-State. They lost a game 58-17.

**I included the Big East as a BCS conference here. 

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