BCS Conferences and Economic Systems: The Surprisingly Close Parallels

This is kind of a strange idea, but somehow the more I thought about it, the more the pieces fit together.  There is a story about NCAA Football and economic/government systems and history that parallels incredibly well.  I’m going to lay out the details of this below in the order of ESPNs current BCS conference rankings:

1. Big 12 – Welfare State

2. SEC – Northern European Socialism

3. PAC 12 – Government by Referendum

4. Big 10 – Communism

5. ACC – Caribbean Communism

6. Big East – PIGS Socialism

7. Independents – Militias

The story for each conference follows:

1. Big 12 – Welfare State

The Welfare State is not something that makes its rounds in everyday political pandering very much, which is a little strange given that this is exactly what the U.S. system looks like.  There’s a baseline economic status given to everyone that’s lower than in socialist/communist systems (with the current deals, the base payout in the Big 12 is less than the Big 10), but the teams are also allowed the opportunity to climb up in the world by being individually brilliant and/or leveraging their marketing into outside networks (Texas has deals that dwarf every other school in the country).

Similarly, someone who falls on rough times in the U.S. has a little bit of a welfare safety net to fall into, but also can use their individual talents to rise in socioeconomic status.  Take Kansas, a lowly football school that used a lot of hard work and chipping away for years to win the 2008 Orange Bowl.  Unfortunately for the Jayhawks, they didn’t realize that it was hard work and sacrifice that got them there, not positive feelings.  So, they ditched Mangino, hired Turner Gill and have been fielding particularly awful teams since then.  With some time and hard work, they could climb back out of it at some point.  In a more general sense, the Big 12 has had a fair bit of turnover at the top and bottom, which is like welfare states in general.  Socioeconomic mobility is high in this system.

2.  The SEC – Northern European Socialism

This one is pretty easy.  Everyone in the SEC gets the exact same amount of money, but it’s a pretty high standard of living.  However, there are some serious haves (Alabama-Germany) and have-nots (Mississippi-Romania).  Compared to their neighbors, the SEC is in great shape financially and has a rich history.  Further, studies have shown that socialism is much more likely to take hold in places with highly homogeneous populations (like Sweden).  Due to the tradition of segregation in SEC areas, there are quite a few very homogenous micropopulations in the region.  Northern European countries have quite a tradition of strained race relations, too.  It seems like a good fit.

Naturally, Mizzou is an obvious fit in the conference.  They were highly unlikely to get a deal together like Texas has, and wanted a higher baseline so the SEC makes sense.  They also didn’t allow black football players on the field until the 1950’s.  So there’s that.

3.  PAC 12 – Government by Referendum

The PAC 12 mirrors California government/economics in a lot of ways.  It’s kind of out of control.  So, in the end there are often very talented teams that can do amazing things, but unless they are truly motivated by some outside influence, they often underachieve (UCLA, Colorado).  The state of California gets propped up by one serious overachiever in Silicon Valley (where Stanford is located, of course) and the whole system is just screwed up enough that a few people can get away with breaking all the rules to get to the top (USC).

Like the state of California, the inherent culture of the PAC 12 will be sure to limit the strength of the entire entity and result in fewer titles than their talent levels should warrant.  Though they do have medical marijuana.

4. Big 10 – Russian Communism

Everyone in the Big 10 gets the same payout, period.  It seems like a fair system for all the members on the surface, but really only 2 schools have all the power (Michigan, Ohio State).  Also, like Russian Communism, the Big Ten peaked a long time ago.  Ohio State won a BCS championship in a fairly fluky title game, but otherwise the conference hasn’t had a real shot at one in 20 years.

With the USSR, the actual underpinnings of economic achievement (known here as football) started to break down then they tried to prop up the system with propaganda (the ESPN Big 10 blog conveniently didn’t link to the conference rankings above, the other conference blogs did) and things that look shiny on the surface (Big 10 Network).  However, the actual fundamentals were way out-of-date (still going for the 3 yards and a cloud of dust), and the best resources for competing efficiently (recruits from Texas, California and Florida) became harder to come by because they don’t have any direct connections to them.  Eventually it all just fell apart.

When the members realize they don’t have what it takes to compete for championships, they will realign (just like all the satellite USSR states broke away) and leave the oligarchs (Michigan, Ohio State) to consolidate their power even more and play on a world stage while the others re-adjust to their new homes.  However, the Big Ten moves slowly.  Very slowly.  This isn’t going to happen for quite a while.

Additionally, the landscape, climate, rust-belt cities, overwhelming whiteness of the population and drinking not to party but because of depression (see Iowa, Wisconsin, Nebraska) all match Russia quite well.

5. The ACC – Caribbean Communism

This is really like Russian Communism “light” and in a different place.  The payout is not as good per person, but it’s still pretty even across the board.  Also, the ACC and Caribbean communism have relied far too much on tobacco to gain their status in the world, and they even share the same ocean waters.  It’s a very nice match.

Also, Caribbean Communists traditionally relied heavily some star power to get things accomplished (Fidel Castro, Che Guevara).  However, just like the ACC’s stars (Florida State, Miami), they have recently been not much more than corpses (see Miami vs Kansas State).

6. The Big East – The PIGS Economies (Portugal, Italy, Greece, Spain)

They’re like the Northern European socialists only they make a lot less money and their system is on the verge of collapse.  In spite of this they are surprisingly good at basketball.

7. Independents – Militias

For the most part, independent militias have disappeared across the east and midwest (Notre Dame joining the ACC).  However, they are popping up more than ever in desolate northwestern parts of the country (Idaho, BYU).  They are very principled outside of economics (football) which gives them an edge at times, but everyone knows they have no shot at achieving the title.  They’re just a little too crazy.

That’s the breakdown.  Enjoy.


About markdollardrealty

Mark has built a reputation as a responsive and dedicated broker who uses his market expertise and extensive background in finance to identify and close on prime opportunities for his clients. As a multi-year top-producing agent at a boutique real estate firm, he brings an unparalleled level of experience, skills, and customer service to real estate transactions. Whether working with a first-time condo buyer or selling a multi-million dollar investment property, Mark strives to understand each client's unique needs and leads them confidently through all aspects of what is often a complex process. Constantly looking at the long-term benefits, Mark educates his clients with their future in mind, and remains a trusted advisor long after any single transaction has closed.
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