We’re now a month removed from the college football national championship game. And what a game it was: a rusty Florida team handily beat a even rustier Ohio State squad. Disappointment loomed everywhere–in the game itself, in the minds of USC and Boise State fans who ponder what might have been if only there were a playoff.
Ahh, a playoff. We’re told it will never happen. And no matter what reasons are attached to the answer to the question, “Why won’t it happen?”, we all know the answer is money. The current system makes money for all the key decision makers involved.
USC fans and Boise State fans can scream all they want how the system doesn’t work–how a true national champion was not identified. And the veracity of those statements makes no difference. Why? Because the criteria by which the key decision makers are evaluating the BCS is not on its ability to crown a champion. In fact, it DOES do that. We may not like the process or even agree with the results, but a champion is crowned. No, the criteria by which the BCS is evaluated is whether it makes money or not. End of story, but not end of blog.
The BCS is a business and if you ran a business and it was making enormous profits would you change the model just because of a few angry customer complaints? Heck no you wouldn’t. (Home Depot hasn’t. They have the worst customer service of virtually any large business in America and yet they keep making money. But that’s for another day.)
But how then can we ever hope to see a change in the system? Well, it needs to not make money. And here’s the good news. We, you and I, the consumer, the customer, have ALL the power in this regard. What if, next season, sports fans en masse boycotted every single bowl game? What if no one went to the games? What if no one watched the games at home?
Tickets are bought mostly by corporations so they’d be sold and the money in the coffers of the BCS. But there would be a huge backlash by teams and sponsors playing in front of an empty stadium, whether or not tickets were paid for. Furthermore, if Budweiser paid $500,000 for a one minute Rose Bowl advertisement anticipating the message would reach several million Americans and it reached none, how much would Budweiser be willing to pay for ad time next year? The money would dry up and the BCS would be facing bankruptcy if it perpetuated the business model. Change would have to come. Nothing scares corporate America more than an informed, activist consumer base willing to exercise self control.
The nice thing about our capitalist, consumer driven society is that the consumer has ALL the power. We just seldom exercise it. When you take your son to a bowl game you support the current system. When you watch a bowl game on tv you support the current system. We say to our sons, to our coworkers, to our friends, to our wives (they’re not listening, but we say it to them anyway) that wehate the BCS. But then we turn around and support it. The BCS knows this, too. They can arrogantly not listen to our complaints because, deep down, they know fans will still attend and watch their product. They’re counting their profits before we’ve even given them a dime.
Are we aware of our hypocrisy and comfortable with it? Are we not willing to make the hard choices to affect changes we want to see? Or, perhaps, we just haven’t thought it through enough to see that we are complicit in perpetuating the very system we malign.
Next year, if you want a playoff in college football, boycott every single college football bowl game. Don’t go and don’t watch. SHOW the BCS key decision makers that you disapprove. Because they clearly don’t care what we have to say. We have the hammer and it’s time to wield it.