• phil cantor/@osgphil

Power Rankings are Nothing More than Sports Clickbait



This is a somewhat rhetorical but also legit want to know question: Do you (fans) get excited to see or read where your team stands in various News/Sports Organizations "Power Rankings"??


Seriously, I want to know.


Do you seek out ESPN or CBS Sports or any other News Source that features writers share opinions on the best or worst teams every week?


I mean, think about it for a second. In Professional Sports, a weekly "Power Ranking" means absolutely nothing. Of course it means nothing in College too, but that is a subject I'll get to in a minute.



Is this going to tell anyone who the best team in the NFL is? Hell, no. It's what one writer thinks on a given week. The NFL has a playoff system to tell us who the best team is, what does it matter what an individual writer thinks.



Does this list tell you what team will be the best team in the NBA? No, it doesn't. Again, that's why they have playoffs.


It's even stranger at the College level. In College Basketball and Football, the game survives on a completely antiquated system of "Polls" who are supposed to tell us who the best teams and contenders are. You know, the "Top 25" (which used to be 20).


Yes, polls are a form of Power Rankings. In Football, those "Rankings" are often predicated on "Brand Names", the recognizable and marketable teams who yes--are often the best, but not always. Put an Alabama and a Boise State next to each other and 100 out of 100 times, Alabama will be picked ahead of Boise. It doesn't matter the strength or weakness of a Crimson Tide team, they will always be placed ahead of a Boise.


Just by the nature of the "Power 5" and "Group of 5" we have a built in, inherent in-balance that will always favor the "Power 5". It's less pronounced in basketball where there are smaller schools (Gonzaga, Butler etc) who can and do compete with the Kentucky's and Duke's of the world.


I know this all sounds kind of negative, but I really am interested to hear why people get so excited about Power Rankings. I see people arguing and discussing on Social Media about it which I suppose is the point---but there's never been a logical explanation as to why it matters.


To be able to say your NBA team is #1 in the Power Rankings on December 18th of an NBA season that doesn't end until April is kind of weird to me. Same for the NFL. To say you are 1st in someone's Power Ranking list after Week 4 means largely nothing. College Football too. In fact it is kind of repetitive since we have polls who tell us the same thing.


But hey, I know, we have a ton of talking heads on TV and Radio who need something to talk about. We have writers in Newspapers and Websites who need to generate page views and spark argument and debate. It's what we now do to entertain ourselves. I get it.


I'm just in a place where I want to understand what motivates fans. I want to know why and how people get worked up into a frenzy over their favorite teams for sometimes reasons that are largely irrelevant.


I just want to know......

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