Friday, June 4, 2010

Who cares what the official voices say? (When other usurp the official authority)

This post talks about Major League Baseball, but the points apply to just about any sports league out there.

The league is the self-appointed keeper of all statistics related to league play. But fans often quibble with those official statistics.

The most recent example is Armando Galarraga's perfect game that wasn't.

An umpire’s tears and admission he blew a call failed to move baseball commissioner Bud Selig to award Armando Galarraga the perfect game he pitched....

Selig said Thursday that Major League Baseball will look at expanded replay and umpiring, but didn’t specifically address umpire Jim Joyce’s botched call Wednesday night that cost Galarraga the perfect game....

A baseball official familiar with the decision confirmed to The Associated Press that the call was not being reversed. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because that element was not included in Selig’s statement.

You can bet that before this is over, a Congressional investigation will be launched - all in an effort to reverse the official Major League Baseball record of perfect games.

My question - why bother?

Just because Major League Baseball says that it is the official arbiter of all statistics doesn't mean that it's true. Anyone can get a hold of the data and make any call that they want. To prove this, I am immediately launching the Empoprises Center of Baseball Statistics.

And the Empoprises Center of Baseball Statistics hereby officially declares that Armando Galarraga pitched a perfect game earlier this week.

And as long as I'm at it, the Empoprises Center of Baseball Statistics officially declares that the record for most home runs hit in a single season is held by Roger Maris.

Now some may argue that the Empoprises Center of Baseball Statistics is not necessarily a reliable source. And frankly, they'd be right. But what if a Bill James or someone else with impressive baseball credentials were to go out and say that they were keeping official statistics...and everybody decided to use THOSE statistics instead of Major League Baseball's statistics?

A silly idea, you might say. There would never be a case in which a third party's decisions would take priority over the decisions of the league.

I will respond in three words - Bowl Championship Series.

The Bowl Championship Series (BCS) is a five-game showcase of college football. It is designed to ensure that the two top-rated teams in the country meet in the national championship game, and to create exciting and competitive matchups among eight other highly regarded teams in four other bowl games.

And the BCS is independent of the entity that supposedly governs college football, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

Of course, what this means is that the U.S. Congress, rather than going after the NCAA, now goes after the BCS. This resulted in this impassioned statement:

In a letter responding to U.S. Senators Max Baucus (D-MT) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Bowl Championship Series (BCS) Executive Director Bill Hancock today stated his strong belief that decisions about college football should be left to people in higher education.

The press release was artfully worded, by the way. Note that Hancock didn't say that decisions should be left to educators. But I digress.

These sports experiences, of course, can be extrapolated to business in general. If you have problems with the entity that is supposedly governing your industry, set up your own entity. Happens all the time.
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