The controversy surrounding the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) in college football has many competing factions. There are those who believe that BCS’ computerized ranking system offers the most objective option based on the available statistics for each team. Opponents to the BCS argue that the computer’s system unfairly weighs certain factors in determining the rankings. No matter where you stand, arguments for any side of the case can be convincingly made.
With this research, my goal will be to show how despite the controversy of the ranking system, it appears that the main purpose of the BCS system is to make as much money as possible through the televising and sponsorship of the bowl games themselves which create millions of dollars through advertising revenue. According to their own website, the BCS “…is designed to match the two top-rated teams in a national championship game and to create exciting and competitive matchups between eight other highly regarded teams…” (The BCS).
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The key words here are, in my opinion, ‘exciting’ and ‘highly regarded’. In other words, the BCS wants teams that translate well to the television due to their popularity and due to the likelihood of creating a high-profile match-up that will draw in millions of viewers as opposed to determining the football programs that deserve to be there based on their play throughout the season. This is understandable from a business point of view, but troubling on the other hand for two major reasons considering the staggering financial numbers.
With their new four-year deal with Fox, the BCS is going to rake in $132 million dollars a year to broadcast the four BCS games, or in other words, $33 million a game (Ourand). The first reason is because these are student-athletes that do not reap the financial rewards that the sponsors and colleges are receiving from their labor. Surely these student-athletes do get special treatment and most of them are on scholarship trying to make it into professional football and the increased media exposure can up their stock, but these benefits pale in comparison to the financial windfalls reaped by the colleges and sponsors.
The second problem is that this system creates a cycle where high-profile football conferences maintain their dominance due to the disproportionate amount of money they receive from profiting from the BCS system, which in turn offers these conferences more money to pour into scholarships to attract the best athletes (who have seen these teams on TV and know and want to then play for them), more money to spend on better facilities and training programs, and more money to secure additional television broadcasting rights.
According to ESPN’s college football expert Gregg Easterbrook, every team in the six ‘football factory’ conferences stands to make $1. 5 million dollars from their BCS television profit sharing strategy. Meanwhile teams from the mid-major conferences will only bring in $200,000 if they are fortunate enough to even have a team earn their way into the BCS (Eastbrook).
BCS proponents cite these figures to strengthen their argument by saying that the profit-sharing strategy effectively ‘lifts all boats’ when in reality the ‘exciting’ and ‘highly regarded’ programs and the BCS sponsors profit disproportionately at the cost of creating a structure that truly has the student-athlete’s well-being in mind along with actually determining the best team in the land. Works Cited Eastbrook, Gregg.
“The BCS doesn’t always give us a clear national champ…and that’s OK. ” ESPN. 4 December 2007. http://sports. espn. go. com/espn/page2/story? page. “The BCS is…” Bowl Championship Series in association with Fox Sports. 15 August 2007. http://www. bcsfootball. org/bcsfb/definition. Ourand, John and Michael Smith. “BCS seeks big bump from Fox. ” Sports Business Journal. 3 November 2008. http://www. sportsbusinessjournal. com/article/60463.
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