Thursday, December 11, 2014

What do Affirmative Action and the Recent College Football Playoff Selection Have in Common?

Three days ago, the college football selection committee finalized its final four choices to take part in the first annual playoff to determine the sports national champion.  The University of Oregon and and the University of Alabama were certain to make it, but the other two choices were a bit more controversial.  Critics of Florida State University argued that, though undefeated, FSU played a soft schedule and escaped from defeat myriad times this season.  The fourth choice, Ohio State University, was even more surprising.  Never in the time I have watched college football do I remember a time when a team jumps those above it in any type of ranking, whether traditional polls or BCS rankings, after all the relevant teams win their final games.  Ohio State destroyed Wisconsin, to be sure, but Baylor and TCU similarly won their games.  And yet Ohio State made it into the playoffs.  And the debates began.

I watched these developments with great amusement.  I wondered whether anybody else could see the connection between this so very public debate and the use of race in employment, college admissions, and elsewhere.

The similarities are astounding. And it makes clear that the affirmative action debate should be more like the college football selection process.  But there is no chance of that.  When it comes to race, reason and judgment leave us, and stupid sets in.