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Will Patents Make NCAA Football Playoffs Impossible? 177

An anonymous reader writes "Mark Cuban recently announced plans to create a college football playoff system, which many people (including President Obama) have been claiming has been needed for years. However, after doing so, Cuban received an odd email, claiming that he'd better watch out, because a college football playoff system is patented and anything he did would likely infringe. The patent wasn't named, but Techdirt believes it has found the patent in question, along with another pending patent application (which has some amusing errors in it — such as an abstract that says it's about a boat fender, rather than a sports playoff system). So is it really true that some random guy in Arizona is the only person who can legally set up such a college football playoff system?"
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Will Patents Make NCAA Football Playoffs Impossible?

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  • by commlinx ( 1068272 ) on Friday December 24, 2010 @06:51AM (#34658882) Journal

    Reform of a field of sports for an entire nation is dependent on the whim of a random individual somewhere.

    This coming to light could be a good thing, maybe something a lot of the general public actually give a shit about like sport will highlight how ludicrous the system is to a wider audience.

  • by darkitecture ( 627408 ) on Friday December 24, 2010 @06:54AM (#34658896)
    Short answer: Because at the end of the day, having a high-profile and appealing sports program makes them a lot more money than they invest in it.
  • by Alex Belits ( 437 ) * on Friday December 24, 2010 @07:00AM (#34658914) Homepage

    Then those people should organize professional sports teams and stop pretending that it has anything to do with edcational institutions they run.

  • by Alex Belits ( 437 ) * on Friday December 24, 2010 @07:11AM (#34658946) Homepage

    Let me clarify -- why is this allowed? Colleges have shitloads of government funding and regulation behind them, why are they allowed to engage in business that is clearly at odds with their primary purpose? And if sports are OK then why not, say, strip clubs?

  • by RobotRunAmok ( 595286 ) on Friday December 24, 2010 @08:37AM (#34659186)

    >>Why is this [sports] allowed?

    Because 20,000 people won't buy tickets to watch a meeting of the Princeton Math Club.

    Because CBS isn't interested in buying the broadcast rights for the Dartmouth Glee Club's next season.

    Because rich alumni don't donate millions to keep their alma mater's Medieval History curriculum competitive.

  • by AndGodSed ( 968378 ) on Friday December 24, 2010 @09:00AM (#34659244) Homepage Journal

    Because it relates to patent trolling.

    This puts patent trolling in the limelight.

    Next time you discuss something like patent trolling with a jock (as if, I know) you will have something relevant to him to refer to.

  • fascinating (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nomadic ( 141991 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .dlrowcidamon.> on Friday December 24, 2010 @09:15AM (#34659286) Homepage
    I just find it fascinating how posters on this story are blasting the patent system and the entirety of the United States itself based on a single, solitary email from some unknown guy. I don't know how any reasonable person would assume with such 100% certainty that this single patent proves anything about any fact other than "once upon a time some guy managed to obtain a bad patent."
  • by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Friday December 24, 2010 @09:39AM (#34659406)

    Get over it man - most of America loves college sports, and your bit of nerd ragin' isn't going to change that.

    That is not really the problem. If athletes were held to the same standard as everyone else, then sure, you could call it "nerd rage" when people complain about football teams receiving so much money. The problem is that athletes, especially star athletes, are very often held to a lower academic standard than other students, and I have even seen cases where athletes are allowed to break rules and even laws without facing the same disciplinary actions as any other student would. That situation is a problem, regardless of what America loves.

  • by DesScorp ( 410532 ) <> on Friday December 24, 2010 @11:03AM (#34659858) Homepage Journal

    Let me clarify -- why is this allowed? Colleges have shitloads of government funding and regulation behind them, why are they allowed to engage in business that is clearly at odds with their primary purpose? And if sports are OK then why not, say, strip clubs?

    Because college sports are not in and of themselves out of place at universities. All colleges from their beginnings emphasized mental, spiritual, and physical development. It's just that the spiritual has been all but driven from campus (except for a few devout schools, not even Catholic colleges are very Catholic these days), and the physical has been overemphasized because of money and a host of other reasons. "Short Bus" students are not only admitted on sports teams because they can score touchdowns, either. Have you looked at incoming freshmen classes lately? In any one, there's going to be a large group of *fill in "underrepresented* minority here* students that are admitted with lower GPA's and test scores because of 'diversity' goals. There are indeed dum dum's on the football field, but they're also in remedial freshmen classes as well, and most don't wear a sports jersey these days.

    I'm a huge college football fan, but heavens yes, I recognize the commercial aspect is outrageous. Alabama's coach, Nick Saban, makes $4 million dollars a year to coach the football team, a record salary. The average BCS salary is now between $1 and $2 million per head coach. But the ugly truth of it is that filling the seats at football stadiums and basketball arenas also attract more non-athlete applicants, raise donor revenue levels, and sell lots of licensed merchandise which the schools rake in tons of money with. There's absolutely no doubt that having a successful sports program benefits the school greatly overall. But is it a devil's bargain? Yes, I think maybe it is. Should we go back to the same admission standards for athletes as baseline freshmen? Of course we should. But we should also eliminate "diversity" admissions too. Either you make the grade and you're ready for college, or bye, see us after two years of junior college. You can score touchdowns but have a low high school GPA? Juco's have football teams too. See you in two years.

    We both know that'll never happen, though, for reasons of both money and politics. I'm actually against a playoff specifically because it further professionalizes the game. We've now moved up to an NCAA 12 game regular football season precisely because colleges wanted the revenue from that extra game. They cloak it in "the kids want to play", but we know that reason is secondary. I've always thought the NCAA tournament was farcical in regards to "amateur" status as well. Really, after a long, grueling basketball season, with up to two games played per week... during the semester... now you want a 64 team playoff? Just when are these kids supposed to go to class?

    I'd like to see NCAA football go back to a 10 game regular season, no championship games, and limit the number of bowls to 15 or 16. But we know that'll never happen. Young men with spotty academics will continue to be admitted along with young men with spotty academics that have no athletic talent at all as long as they're filling the right admissions quota. Just the way it is.

  • by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Friday December 24, 2010 @11:22AM (#34659992)
    All they need to do is look at this guy's record: []

    It was not until he murdered someone that he actually got in any trouble. Never mind how many run-ins he had with the police or the fact that other people had seen him hitting his girlfriend; none of that got him kicked off the team or kicked out of school.

    It is no secret that athletes are held to a different standard. When it becomes a scandal, the rest of the world gets a glimpse of the truth; here's another case: []

    Some of the players on Binghamton's basketball team were accepted there as students without regard to their record or academic performance, simply because they showed promise as basketball players. It wasn't until several of them were arrested in a short period of time that this became a scandal that the New York Times saw fit to cover.

    If you think that nobody is turning the other cheek for star athletes, I have a bridge to sell you...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 24, 2010 @11:43AM (#34660136)
    All good points; no disagreement from me. I do wonder why nobody seems to have mentioned that, without college football, the professional football league(s) would need to build up an expensive "farm" system similar to what baseball has. So I imagine the NFL is a strong lobby / proponent for keeping college football.

Perfection is acheived only on the point of collapse. - C. N. Parkinson