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Understanding Bias in Sports

Discussion in 'Buckeye Football' started by OilerBuck, Dec 13, 2005.

  1. OilerBuck

    OilerBuck Sweet Crude

    Please look at the list above. These are the postseason top five defensive lineman for every BCS conference (as ranked by CFN).

    In dealing with the aforementioned names, for how many can you:
    1. Name what team they play for?
    2. Recall watching them play at all?
    3. Recall watching that specific player for an entire play (start to finish)?
    4. Say that you have seen at least five plays, in which that player made an impact?
    5. Make an objective opinion that any one single player is conclusively better than another?

    ...yeah, I didn't come up with much either.

    Our opinions on matters such as these are submersed in bias. I'm not suggesting we only have bias towards Buckeye players, however. Consider the following sources of bias (in order of relevance).

    1. Favoritism - If you are a fan of, like or dislike a player, you are more likely to have a strong opinion (good or bad) on that player.

    2. Firsthand knowledge of a player - If you have seen a player firsthand and can recall his ability or impact on a game, you will be more likely to have a strong opinion (good or bad) on that player.

    3. Name recognition - If you have seen a highlight involving a player or have heard that player talked about in the media, you will be more likely to have a strong opinion (good or bad) on that player.

    4. Team/Unit Success - If a player's team or unit is greatly successful or unsuccessful, you will be more likely to have a strong opinion (good or bad) on that player.

    5. Statistics - If a certain player has relevant statistics that stand out to you, you will be more likely to have a strong opinion (good or bad) on that player.

    Many of you have noticed that I've been on a huge kick on the subject of bias since the BuckeyePlanet Awards. The reason behind this, is that I was made aware of my own bias and have since come to the conclusion that, while you cannot totally wipe yourself clean of bias, understanding your tendencies in these areas will make you a more knowledgeable fan.

    Think about how you voted for your BP awards (I did the exact same things, so don't consider this a bashing session).

    Did you immediately knock a player out of your top six, based on not knowing their name? In our defensive lineman discussion, this is a bad move because often these guys are overlooked in post-game discussions or highlights unless they have a TD or huge hit.

    Did you immediately knock a player out of your top six because his stats weren't as impressive as another guy? You all realize that the best D Line players usually face double teams and special schemes to neutralize their effect. This typically frees the less imposing player to make plays and rack up stats.

    Were you ever trying to decide between a group of players for that final sixth spot, and decide give it to a Buckeye, Longhorn, Wolverine or Trojan, because you had watched them or because their team/unit had success?

    This thread idea was birthed from numerous recent threads regarding All-American teams and individual awards. I hear so much sentiment that it is a "crime" that a certain player doesn't make it, or that it is obvious that someone was mistakenly left off. These comments, without applied reasoning, make everyone look like a fool. We should definitely have our own opinions, but need to consider biased tendencies when making comparisons. I'm as guilty as anyone.

    Could we argue that Kudla deserves a third-team All-American look? Yeah. Can we say with any degree of certainty that he should absolutely been on the list...only if you can tell me why those ahead of him should be left off, or why he deserves it more than the other 29 players on the list above.

    ...Use this logic when making outraged comments, starting e-mail drives, or boycotting.

    (Now stepping down from my soapbox)
  2. holybuckeye33

    holybuckeye33 Junior

    This deserves a GPA. Excellent post!!
  3. rocketman

    rocketman flying low

    I guess with 117 teams and huge discrepansies to which teams get more media coverage, it's easy to see how players get overlooked and how biases are formed. I guess in a more perfect world, the NFL scouts would give out the individual awards and All-American honors, as it is their job to evaluate talent regardless of what the players background is or what kind of media coverage their team gets. Now THAT would be interesting to see.
  4. This is exactally why all awards all flawed. I also think the votes should be made public, so people can just discount the people that play favoritism b/c their votes are secret.

    Especially those that didnt have Reggie Bush on the heisman ballot at all.

    By the way nice post Oiler.
  5. stxbuck

    stxbuck Woody wore Sambas

    I could actually name the team of 18 of those guys. As for the other criterion-no way-I saw Dumervil had something like 10. sacks in one game for Louisville, and 3 or 4 the previous week, on ESPN. Good post.
  6. OilerBuck

    OilerBuck Sweet Crude

    That's why I love draft coverage. The NFL draft exposes an absolute truth, because a teams only goal is to make themselves better. They usually don't have the same hidden agendas and media bias. They have seen every single prospect and analyzed them down to the letter.

    It's definately important to realize that very few people (even experts) have analyzed things enough to REALLY know who should be on the all-whatever team, or who should get what award. That's why we should realize that guys like Kudla, Pitcock and Whitner get lost on a defense full of big names. Few people outside of Ohio realize how talented they are.

    On the same token, it's hard to blast them for overlooking those guys due to a lack of knowledge, when we do the exact same thing in suggesting they absolutely deserve to be there. The key is to tone outrage down to opinion and don't allow your subjective thoughts to be keyed as fact.

    I believe with everything in me that Hawk is the best linebacker in the country. I also think Santonio is first team all-american quality...What I should avoid doing, is pretending like that is an absolute truth, and that I can objectively compare them to other players in the country that I haven't seen nearly as much.

    I think you (Rocketman) provided an excellent point with the draft. Soon enough we'll see who the NFL thinks is worthy of staking their franchises on. That will be the real measuring stick of guys like A.J., Santonio, Carp and Mangold.

    ..Well the SECOND biggest measuring stick. After Jan. 2nd of course!
  7. methomps

    methomps an imbecility, a stupidity without name

    I think you missed the point of Oiler's post.
  8. I was looking at the favoritism part of his post, about how people just vote for who they like, which would lead to someone not voting for Reggie Bush b/c they probably had some sort of relationship or hatred towards Reggie.
  9. but kids arent drafted on what they only do that year, or what theyve done as college kids. but on potential and ability to be used in a certain teams scheme.
  10. OilerBuck

    OilerBuck Sweet Crude

    I sincerely believe Reggie was the best player in football this year. Does that necessarily mean that someone was intentionally promoting their own agenda by leaving him off the ballot? Not really.

    There are so many factors, criteria and candidates for awards like this, that we have to take them for what they are worth. Take Bush and Young, for example: How can we compare two players, that don't play the same position, opponents or have the same weapons around them? It's futile to try to say that there is any single right answer.

    That is why you are entitled to you opinion, but you also have to entitle others to theirs. For example, instead of saying "Anyone who left Bush off their ballot is on crack, this is total bull crap! I'm going to call my congressman!", you can say "I think Reggie is the best player in football today. In a dynamic offense that is designed to spread the ball around, he continuously managed to change the game for his team and to shine everytime he touched the football.".

    The above two statements each illustrate your position, but the second does so without making you look like a teenager with a grudge. It's all about perception. I think that if our posts, in general, become more positive and contain more thoughtful analysis, we will be better ambassadors of Ohio State and our fanbase.
  11. I see what you mean, but so many people will not take off the blinders and have an objective conversation. I see more of it here than most places, but when you come here you have a buckeye bias no matter what you try to do. When you look at sportscenter usually you have an east coast bias, just b/c that is where the people are from and what they know.

    When you say thoughtful analysis, most people think they are being thoughtful, but there is absolutely no way to konw who the best at something is, b/c there is always someone that can shoot you down with there thoughtful analysis.

    In my opinion you win some you lose some, but your own opinion is just that, and the more thoughtful and drawn out your opinions are the more someone else has the chance to start believing them and using them as their own.

    This is the exact reason why Espin as we like to call them can say anything they want and most people will start to believe it, it is b/c where else can anyone go to get national sports on a 24/7 basis. They must be the best b/c they are the only ones out there. If they are reporting it, it must be true. I am sure that is how a lot of people looked at them b4 the whole MoC thing, and now we look at them as spin doctoring everything the put on just so they can get ratings and viewers, b/c they know the types of things people want to hear so they give it to them.
  12. osugrad21

    osugrad21 Capo Regime Staff Member

    Excellent post OB. Perceptions of "good" are so misleading at recognition from media love, stats which can be padded, etc.

    Two CBs come to mind in this discussion: Fox and Youboty. Fox was crucified by many Buckeye fans who did not understand his role in the defensive scheme. Based on what was asked of DFox at tOSU, he was an excellent CB. Same with AY, the vision of the Minnesota game is the sticking point in many assessments of his draft possibilities. Never mind that he was playing injured or that the Minny WR made an incredible catch, AY was not deserving of any accolades in the eyes of some fans due to this performance.

    This perception, imho, is the product of today's "now" society...immediate internet observations, 24-hour sports channels, highlight overdose, and a multitude of XBox gurus. These opinions can easily snowball...Fox at safety, Smith cannot read defense, Zwick throws off of his back foot, etc. Yet, how many of these critics can honestly explain what they are talking about? Seemingly, fans have suddenly become experts...or at least have been given the forums to give this perception.

    Once again, excellent post.
  13. OilerBuck

    OilerBuck Sweet Crude

    Understanding Bias in Sports (Part II - Recruiting Rankings)

    As some of you know, I tend to harp on the subject of "bias" in sports. I find it fascinating to observe fans of a team, in which I am not emotionally invested, and analyze their reactions to big news (positive or negative).

    It's amazing that every fan base is CONVINCED that the media and public perception is biased against them. Whenever a negative release comes out, it is always "another example of how <insert organization/person here> is out to get us". Alternatively, positive news or praise is met with shouts of "can you believe they finally said something good about us?"

    Given my informal research and observations, we can only help but come to one of two conclusions:
    1. Every fan base is being deliberately and aggressively wronged by members of the media, and by public perception as a whole.
    2. Every fans base has a slightly biased and/or elevated opinion of the team, in which they are emotionally invested enough to join a message board to talk about.
    Fast forward to all the discussion on Scout/Rivals rankings...

    Rating players is particularly susceptible to bias, because it is subjective and more art than science. Thousands of undeveloped kids are being projected through some of the most drastic formative years of their life, so people are going to value different skills and measurables. If you are anything like me, you pay attention to a few different types of individuals, each year:
    • Top-rated Recruits
    • Ohio State Recruits
    • Local Recruits
    You may follow their news clippings, check for status updates, watch some highlight film, or (if you are really hardcore) watch them for a game in person. You are likely to be swayed in one direction or another, based on this information. If you have no scouting experience, you may also take on the opinion of individuals on a message board.

    Go back to my original post on sports bias, from several years ago. How much of your opinion on ranking comes from familiarity or a 5 minute compilation of plays demonstrating an athlete's ceiling? Have you talked to the players' coach, opposing coaches, recruiters, teammates, or parents? Have you gone to a game with a scouting sheet and objectively compared him with the numerous other players that you also scouted at the same position? Have you called upon years of experience in the business to come to these determinations?

    Players that play at such an elite level are VERY close to each other. Professional scouting services are far from infallible, and I'm sure each scout gets enamored in "their" guys. That can even lead to some skewed rankings, if one scout is better at arguing than others. At the end of the day, however, these guys are professionals and their dissenting opinions tend to even each other out. They take the job seriously because it is their JOB to be good, and their past rankings show that they are. All we do is critique a list that takes months to develop, which is a lot different than picking the elite athletes out of a seemingly infinite number of high school athletes and ranking them from scratch.

    At the end of the day, star rankings don't make a player better or worse. Doran Grant is the same player today that he was yesterday. The REAL issue is that everyone wants positive perception. I don't know when Buckeye fans began needing constant validation...but it actually HURTS public opinion.

    I'm not trying to squelch conversation or dissenting opinions. I just want us all to be aware where the REAL bias comes from.
    matcar likes this.
  14. OilerBuck

    OilerBuck Sweet Crude

    Note: I posted this as a response to some threads on other Buckeye sites. I haven't seen much outrage on this site over the rankings...yet.
  15. FCollinsBuckeye

    FCollinsBuckeye Senior Former Game Champion

    Most of our outrage is directed at E!SPN bias.


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