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The Category Mistake at the Heart of College Football

Cosmic Variance
By Sean Carroll
Dec 16, 2008 9:44 PMNov 5, 2019 8:18 AM


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Too many things I would blog about, if only I could slip into an extra timelike dimension and experience several weeks in just a few of your Earth minutes. Between now and New Year's I'm going to clean out my collection of blog-worthy things; if you've read enough of Cosmic Variance in the past, you should be able to extrapolate to a full post. Today: "Top Ten Stupidest Arguments in College Football," which is itself so full of stupid arguments one suspects one is being punk'd. College football is the only major sport that decides who plays in the championship game on the basis of a vote, rather than by a playoff. One can debate the merits vis-a-vis excitement and revenues, but the whole operation is based on an epistemological blunder: the idea that there is something called the "best" team. The point of sports is not that there are better teams and worse teams, it's that some teams win and some teams lose. Winning and losing is not some approximation to the true measure of excellence that we are forced to put up with; it's what the games are all about. A sensible world would have a playoff, and let the teams play. (I've actually heard people argue that a playoff would be bad idea because the "best" team might not win.) (If I could just train myself to make posts that are that short all the time, I'd blog twice as often. Maybe five times as often. Are more/shorter posts better?)

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