Everyone's a little biased when it comes to their team
Posted: Monday December 5, 2005 11:32AM; Updated: Monday December 5, 2005 4:26PM
Although Terrence Whitehead and the Ducks are 10-1, they won't be going to a BCS bowl.
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I was returning home from a run in the winter wonderland that is Central Park, and on W. 81st Street (the same block where JerrySeinfeld lived on the show, and where he currently resides), I passed conservative author and essayist P.J. O'Rourke.
I love P.J. O'Rourke. Now, I don't agree with everything that he writes -- I don't agree with everything that I write -- but I do love his fearlessness and that he embraces his responsibility as a writer to be trenchant. Seventeen years ago, when I was trying to decide whether to be a doctor ($$$, saving people's lives, blah blah blah) or a journalist (˘˘˘, ruining people's careers, blah blah blah), O'Rourke wrote the following line in Rolling Stone: "Anyone who doesn't know what's wrong with education has never [had sex with] an education major."
I laughed out loud. Maybe because I was a high school teacher at the time and knew my way around a teacher's lounge had something to do with it.
Clearly, though, O'Rourke was biased. As was I. As are you. Consider the lyrics in this tune, from the hilarious (of course, that's just my opinion) Broadway musical Avenue Q. The song is entitled Everyone's a Little Bit Racist, but you should sub in the words "biased/bias" for "racist/race."
Everyone's a little bit racist Sometimes. Doesn't mean we go Around committing hate crimes. Look around and you will find No one's really color blind. Maybe it's a fact We all should face Everyone makes judgments Based on race.
The color blindness, as it relates to this topic, would be uniform color. Because, after I wrote a column last week about whom I believed should play in the Fiesta Bowl (Penn State, Auburn) and whom I believed would play (Notre Dame, Ohio State), I got a first-hand lesson in bias from the readers. Folks in the Beaver State (Hey! That nickname is biased in favor of Oregon State!) could not have been less happy with me if I were O'Rourke and they were members of Teach America. Whereas a fan from Auburn, whose supporters just a few months ago would gladly have rolled Toomer's Corner with my entrails, wrote, "No question. Just congratulations on a GREAT ARTICLE! No bias."
So, let's examine a few of the biases that I (and the national media in general) were accused of having before last Saturday. And let's see how some of those biases fared.
1. The Anti-Oregon Bias
Gripe: The Ducks, 10-1, and whose sole loss was to No. 1 USC, belong in a BCS bowl.
John, you can bring any stats you want. Wins and losses are the most important. If you want the best teams, you choose Penn State and Oregon ... --Ben, Seattle
Have you ever seen the Ducks play? You are just like all the others, badmouthing a team you know nothing about ... --Jerry, West Linn, Ore.
What you fail to mention about OREGON being an afterthought is that it is as a result of people like you who do not mention them or their players. Before he got hurt, QB Kellen Clemens had nearly 3,000 yards passing, 19 TDs and only four picks, and not a single mention for the Heisman or any QB award ... you are a --- twit. --Howard, San Francisco
Geez, Louise. Hello, AAMCAS? Are my MCAT scores still acceptable?
Ben, whose e-mail address reads, in part, "ducksrnumber1", certainly is unbiased. And I'm sure he'd have no problem if Texas Christian, a school that also finished 10-1 -- and, unlike the Ducks -- defeated a team that played in last season's national championship game, accepted a Fiesta Bowl invite in their place.
I wrote back to Jerry to tell him that I'd seen the Ducks play twice in person since 2003 ('03 at home versus Nevada and '04 at Oklahoma), but that, yes, I haven't seen them play on TV as much as I have Ohio State, or Notre Dame, or Penn State. That's life in the Big Apple, unfortunately.
As for Clemens, he was having a super season ... and yet, three of the seven teams he faced had passing defenses currently ranked 107th (Washington), 109th (Arizona State), and 111th (Stanford). You can argue that his performances against those schools played a role in their being ranked that low, and you'd be right. Just as I can make an argument that a quarterback such as Tennessee's Rick Clausen, who went up against four of the nation's top 17 pass defenses, had a much tougher crucible in which to prove himself.
No, I don't think Clausen is a better quarterback than Clemens. It's just that -- and, after all, isn't this the reason sports radio survives -- you can always manipulate numbers to make your arguments. To wit, ...