WCBE

Why The BCS Is The Holy Roman Empire Of Sport

Jan 4, 2012
Originally published on January 5, 2012 7:34 am

The Bowl Championship Series climaxes Monday, with a game in New Orleans between Louisiana State and Alabama for the national bragging rights to Dixie.

As there is a joke about the Holy Roman Empire — that it was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire — so can the same be said about the Bowl Championship Series.

It's not a bowl; it's a game played in the Superdome.

It's not a championship, just an exhibition, because the teams have been appointed to show up without earning the right to challenge for the title.

And it's not a series, because no team plays more than once.

No wonder the BCS is so despised. Remember Diogenes? The guy who browsed around with a lantern, looking for just one honest man? Well, I am the Diogenes of the BCS — armed with a bullhorn and a searchlight, I've traveled this great land of ours, desperately hoping to find just a single fan of the BCS. But alas, I've found nary a one.

Still, we Americans continue, lobotomized, to accept the BCS as legitimate, when it's the goofiest competition this side of the Iowa caucuses and the People's Choice Awards. But if we should just think about it for a moment, and apply its arranged manipulations to other sports, we could realize how unfair and imbecilic the Bowl Championship Series really is.

Consider:

If the BCS ran the Olympics, the 100-meter final would be held in September, six or seven weeks after the scheduled heats. That, you see, is consistent with the cuckoo BCS scheduling. LSU's last game was on Dec. 2. Alabama's was way back in November — 45 days ago. Nowhere else in sport is there such a pointless, bizarre interval.

If the BCS ran the NFL, there would be no playoffs. Instead, a bunch of mysterious computers and some dubious experts — many of whom have conflicts of interest — would just declare which teams qualified for the Super Bowl ... then schedule the matchup 45 days from now, of course.

If the BCS ran the World Series, tens of millions of dollars would still be made, and the leagues, and the owners, and the managers, and everyone connected with the Series would be paid. Well, everyone except for the players. But, you see, this is in keeping with the BCS rationale that players are actually much happier playing when they aren't burdened by making money.

Of course, baseball boosters would slip some cash under the table to the major leaguers, to make sure that amateurism remains pure.

If the BCS ran the World Cup, there would be no World Cup. Instead, there would just be a mind-numbing plethora of meaningless soccer matches played between disparate countries, like Peru vs. Slovenia, scheduled at random neutral sites like Sri Lanka.

I hope you enjoy watching the arranged marriage that the BCS is putting on Tuesday.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Last night, Michigan defeated Virginia Tech, 23-20 in the Sugar Bowl, one of the five bowl games that make up college football's Bowl Series. It was a thrilling overtime finish for the Wolverines.

But commentator Frank Deford was likely not watching.

FRANK DEFORD: The Bowl Championship Series climaxes Monday with a game in New Orleans between Louisiana State and Alabama, for the national bragging rights to Dixie. As there is a joke about the Holy Roman Empire, that it was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire, so can the same be said about the Bowl Championship Series.

It's not a bowl. It's a game played in the Superdome. It's not a championship - just an exhibition because the teams have been appointed to show up without earning the right to challenge for the title. And it's not a series because no team plays more than once. No wonder the BCS is so despised.

Remember Diogenes? The guy who browsed around with a lantern looking for just one honest man. Well, I am the Diogenes of the BCS. For armed with a bullhorn and a searchlight, I've traveled this great land of ours, desperately hoping to find just a single fan of the BCS. But, alas, I've found nary a one.

Still, we Americans continue, lobotomized, to accept the BCS as legitimate when it's the goofiest competition this side of the Iowa caucuses or the People's Choice Awards. But - but if we should just think about it for a moment and apply its arranged manipulations to other sports, we could realize how unfair and imbecilic the Bowl Championship Series really is.

Consider: If the BCS ran the Olympics, the 100-meter final would be held in September, six or seven weeks after the scheduled heats. That, you see, is consistent with the cuckoo BCS scheduling. LSU's last game was on December 3rd, Alabama's way back in November - 45 days ago. Nowhere else in sport is there such a pointless, bizarre interval.

If the BCS ran the NFL, there would be no playoffs. Instead, a bunch of mysterious computers and some dubious experts - many of whom have conflicts of interest - who would just declare which teams qualified for the Super Bowl, then schedule the match-up 45 days from now, of course.

If the BCS ran the World Series, tens of millions of dollars would still be made. And the leagues, and the owners, and the managers, and everyone connected with the series would be paid - well, everyone except for the players. But you see, this is in keeping with the BCS rationale that players are actually much happier playing when they aren't burdened by making money.

If the BCS ran the World Cup, there would be no World Cup. Instead, there would just be a mind-numbing plethora of meaningless little soccer matches, international bowl games played between disparate countries like Peru versus Slovenia, scheduled at random neutral sites like Sri Lanka.

I hope you enjoy watching the arranged marriage that the BCS is putting on Monday.

INSKEEP: Commentator Frank Deford joins us each Wednesday from WSHU in Fairfield, Connecticut.

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

And I'm Linda Wertheimer. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.