Can a sub-optimal tournament be optimal when the prize can be collectively consumed? The case of college football's national championship

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Abstract:

One of the most heated debates in all of sports is the annual debate over major college football's national champion. Since its implementation in 1995, the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) system has often failed to quell the controversy concerning what team is the Division 1 Football Bowl Subdivision football champion. Many of the BCS controversies have spawned changes in the title selection format, while others are perhaps the result of certain changes. What remains now is the cry from some college football fans for an expanded 'national championship playoff,' though college and university presidents and many college football coaches continue to resist these cries. We try to explain this resistance to expanding the number of teams invited to compete for the BCS championship and the persistence of the two team playoff format in college football. For three championship eras-pre-BCS, BCS and a futuristic post-BCS expanded playoff-we first relate some of the controversial details to concepts such as optimal tournaments and the public goods concept of collective consumption.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00036840701765510

Affiliations: 1: Department of Economics and Finance, University of South Alabama, Mobile, AL 36688 2: Department of Economics, Auburn University, Auburn, AL 36849 3: Department of Economics, Finance and International Business, University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, MS 39406

Publication date: November 1, 2009

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