Tuesday, March 10, 2009

System for choosing All-ACC is flawed

I was surprised to see both Florida State's Toney Douglas and Miami's Jack McClinton on the All-ACC first team yesterday. Not because the two point guards aren't deserving, but because the voting system is so skewed.

The Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association didn't keep track of which region the 76 votes were cast from, but of the 128-person membership, only 14 come from Florida. In addition, it boasts only one member from Massachusetts, two from Maryland, six from South Carolina, 13 from Georgia, 22 from Virginia and 11 with the "regional/national" designation.

Meanwhile, 59 come from the state of North Carolina, which got three players (UNC's Ty Lawson and Tyler Hansbrough, and Duke Gerald Henderson) on the first team.

That's not to say all 59 media members are biased toward UNC or Duke. Those teams did finish 1-3 in the regular season, and plenty of reporters can cover a school or team, then knowledgeably and fairly see, and vote, the bigger picture. (Although you do have to wonder which 20 members voted for Lawson for the All-Defense team, where he earned honorable mention status. I mean -- really?)

The problem is that those 59 media members almost certainly saw more of UNC and Duke than, say, Boston College, Maryland or Florida State -- especially in person. That means they naturally know more about the strengths, weaknesses, history and performances of the players in their region because they've more consistently viewed more than a stat sheet or ESPN highlights.

ACSMA, whose membership numbers are down because of the decline in the newspaper industry and the bad economy (members must pay dues), considered changing its voting system roughly two years ago because of similar concerns. However, research showed there was a strong correlation between winning percentage and how players were selected (i.e., when teams succeeded, they usually received more individual honors). And there was apparently a concern in the membership that a panel of voters might feel they have to support their region even moreso than individuals.

Still, I didn't vote because the system is flawed. And although I'm on the ACSMA board, I won't vote until the system is changed. A panel of members, divided between each region and who have a chance to see most teams in person, makes sense. Not only would it take away complaints that voting is slanted toward players at UNC, but it would give deserving players in Florida, Massachusetts and Maryland more of a fighting chance.

The voters got it right this time by putting three players from the state of North Carolina, and two from Florida, on the first team (although the debate for Wake's Jeff Teague and Clemson's Trevor Booker for the fifth spot will continue for a while.)

ACSMA just needs to make sure it gets it right in the future, too.

— Robbi Pickeral


Anonymous said...

The right players made the first team even with the majority of voters coming from the state of North Carolina. If this were the 1980's you would have an arguement but with satellite tv and DVR these voters can watch almost every game, from almost every team in america. Whether they choose to do so is another debate.

But complaining this year that the voting needs to be changed rings a little hollow. It would be like complaining about the BCS when the obvious #1 and #2 were playing for the national title.

Anonymous said...

I'm fine with the voting but I do think they should expand the first team to include 10 players. There's just too many great players in this league to limit the first team to 5 players.