Today, the story broke that the House of Representatives approved legislation on the BCS system. Next week the House will likely vote on a bill that would force college football to use a playoff system, thus ending the BCS and the bowl system that exists now. The bill does not allow a collegiate sports team to be named a National Champion unless it had earned the distinction through victory in a playoff system.
For those of you who read this blog, you know that I firmly back a 12 team playoff system. I believe that it will be better as a whole for college football. It would be better for the fans, better for the game itself, and the BCS would make more money than it does now if it was handled right.
However, I believe it is irresponsible of Congress to stick its head into an issue such as this one. I will try not to include political views as much as possible when arguing my point, as this blog does not focus on politics. College Football, although much money is made, is at its center about the student athletes. Without the (unpaid) student athletes, college football and the BCS would not exist. Therefore, whether or not you believe businesses should be extensively regulated by the government, it is important to realize that since unpaid athletes are the major assets of this “industry,” it is not the government’s place to decide how the system should work. There already is a governing body of college sports, and it is called the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The NCAA makes the decisions about all college sports, including recruiting rules, schedules, playoffs, and promotions. Therefore, why should the government become involved in something where the responsibility has been already delegated to the NCAA?
Some may argue that the government became involved in college athletics in the case of Title IX in 1972, so there is a precedent. Here is the difference. Title IX involved BOTH athletics and academics. The government controls most American education, and therefore was involved in that case because of the academic side of the case. For those who do not know, Title IX was a ruling by the US courts that equality between genders in both athletics, in terms of facilities and opportunities, and academics, in terms of enrollment and treatment in classes, was mandatory and would be enforced. Title IX was not just concerned about discrimination in athletics, but in academics as well, even though the commonly held belief is that Title IX is solely about equality in college athletics. Therefore, one cannot argue that Title IX is a precedent to allow the government to pursue this potential playoff-mandating bill, as the bill solely concerns collegiate athletics.
As stated, I am strongly in favor of a 12 team playoff system. As many of you have read, I believe the current system does not give every team an opportunity win a National Championship, and it has affected the regular season play negatively as well. A twelve team system will give each team an opportunity to win, while still retaining the greatness of the college football regular season and making more money for the BCS.
Congress, however, should not be trying to pass a bill to change the college football playoff system. As much as it would make me happy that the system would be changed, by principle I do not think it is Congress’ place to do so. In addition, consider what the government would try to do once it outlawed the current system. What kind of system would be created? How many teams would make the postseason? Would the regular season be affected in any way? Who would run the new system? These are extremely important questions; ones that could affect college football for decades. Do we really want these decisions made by people who spend little or no time studying and analyzing college football? We have heard that President Obama likes football, and he has said that he wants an 8 team system, but is he really knowledgable enough to direct the future of the entire sport of college football? Is Congress? If you answered yes, then you certainly have more faith than I do.