Friday, December 16, 2011

Heisman Trophy: The most overrated award in sports

In almost all team sports, MVP awards are nice individual honors, but winning a championship is valued more.

You wouldn't know it the way college football fans talk about the Heisman Trophy. It is touted as the most prestigious individual honor in sports. Every year, the player with the most votes is awarded the trophy on a stage decorated like a country club -- it has paintings hanging in the background for extra grandeur.

Trying to figure out why the Heisman is so important is as difficult as forecasting the winner in the third week of the season, as many TV analysts and college football experts like to do.

The Heisman is like a celebrity who's famous for being famous. If you ask why, you likely won't get much of an answer. It's like a curious 6-year-old questioning his parents about a holiday tradition -- "Because you're grandfather said so!"

Maybe it's because the trophy looks cool. Everyone makes the pose in their backyard after catching the game-winning touchdown pass.

It isn't held in such high regard because it's an accurate account of the best player in the country that season. Defensive players and linemen have very little chance compared with offensive skill players. That's the case in the NFL, too. But the NFL MVP is considered less important than owning a Super Bowl ring, so you don't hear that argument much in the pros.

That means that this is the Bowl Championship Series' fault. If college football had a playoff, each season would be remembered first and foremost by which team won the title and the championship performance in the process. The Heisman would fall down the ladder a bit.

Perhaps it already has, and this mystique is just television hype. Usually when the Heisman comes up in conversation, it's about how few of the winners went on to NFL glory (I know, it's not intended to be an NFL predictor. That's usually the next thing that comes up in the conversation). Of course, this doesn't come up between the TV hosts while they're sitting on the set with the expensive furniture before the winner is announced.

It also gives broadcasters something to talk about during the offseason, when there isn't much to discuss besides inaccurate recruiting projections, which coach ditched his team before a bowl game and which schools had the worst NCAA violations. Networks have paid hundreds of millions of dollars for rights fees and would rather avoid those topics. So the Heisman it is.

My suggestion: Go to a playoff for the national title, and award the Heisman to the MVP of the championship game.

- Howard Primer

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Heisman is meant to be awarded to the best player who holds himself the best, basically.

Unlike most of the other individual awards, the Heisman voting usually takes into account how well the team did. It's almost always a team that's in the title hunt, Robert Griffin winning it this year was a bit of an anomaly in that regard. Sure, a championship is more important because that is what you work for as a team and that is everyone's goal from the beginning.

That, however, does not mean that individual accomplishments are irrelevant nor that they should not be awarded to those deserving.

December 16, 2011 at 1:49 PM 

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