I've always thought a key criteria is that there has to be a way to determine a clear-cut winner, and a statistically-measured way to crown a champion.
Cheerleading, figure skating, and gymnastics, in my view, aren’t sports. I do, however, consider gymnasts, skaters, and cheerleaders athletes who participate in competitions.
The difference between a competition and a sport is simple: A competition is judged. When a gymnast gets on the floor or the rings, a panel judges him, and he's scored according to opinion.
College football uses the BCS Poll to determine bowl placement. The AP Poll is no longer a factor, but the USA Today Coaches' Poll plays huge role.
And so long as it continues to do so, college football will be a competition, not a sport.
The inclusion of polls in the BCS formula leaves room for error, grievance, and favoritism. This year was especially troublesome, as many teams that normally wouldn't be in the national spotlight staked claims to high rankings—only to plummet in the polls in the event of a loss.
The polls are biased based on the history of a program, especially at the beginning of the year. The BCS Poll doesn't come out until Week Six, but the Coaches’ Poll is active from Week One.
If a coach is busy preparing his team, does he really have time to sit and judge other teams' talent—or are big names more important?
The year started with arguably the biggest upset in college football history, when Appalachian State defeated Michigan. What isn't talked about, though, is that Appy State had won two straight national championships at the time—and won a third this year.
Did losing to a two-time national champion really warrant such a drastic drop in ranking? If not—what gives?
The loss wasn't supposed to happen. Since the Wolverines were supposed to win and didn't, they were abandoned by the voters.
Sounds like opinion and bias to me.
I'm not one of these people who clamor for a playoff system. It’s not going to happen anytime soon. The closest thing may be the “Plus-One” system the NCAA is considering, but that won't be an option until at least 2009, when the BCS contract expires.
The good news is that these issues can be resolved by a handful of minor changes:
1. Division I-A schools should no longer be allowed to play Division I-AA schools. They're in different leagues. Would the New England Patriots ever play an Arena League team?
2. Keep the BCS Poll but eliminate the Coaches’ Poll as a factor. Keep the human element out of it.
3. Standardize conferences. Some Conferences have championship games; some don't. The BCS picture may have looked very different if there hadn't been ACC, Big 12, and SEC Championship games. This is a decision that is made by the conferences and shouldn't be.
4. All non-BCS bowls should be determined by conference standing, not by poll rankings.
For college football to become a sport instead of a competition, we need to eliminate the human factor of the BCS. Otherwise, we might as well quit keeping score and put judges on the sidelines instead.
Just like they do in figure skating.