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The SportsTalk Shop: The New “RCN Sports Talk” Football ANTI-Poll

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The New “RCN Sports Talk”  Football ANTI-Poll


For the past several decades, RCN TV has featured a high school football poll on various sports shows.  The poll first appeared on “This Week In Sports“, and later became a regular feature on “RCN Sports Talk“.  As Lehigh Valley sports writers and broadcasters are often praised for their outstanding high school football coverage, I have always taken pride in the “RCN Sports Talk” poll results.

In the RCN High School Football Poll, RCN TV’s sports announcers  vote for the top “big schools” and “small schools” within the Lehigh Valley.  In addition, guest voters – athletic directors and football coaches in RCN TV’s extended viewing area – are invited to participate in the poll.  This ensures that the poll yields objective results.

In nine of the eleven years that I have tracked the results, our pre-season “big” and “small” number-one teams have won either a league or district title – or both.

However, before I can give a pat on the back to our collective staff (as I don’t make scholastic predictions), I would like to highlight some of the interesting – and sometimes embarrassing – issues that have surfaced.  For example:

  • Newspaper X and Newspaper Y picked School A lower than School B.  The coach at School A then chewed-up the sports writer from Newspaper Z for not picking his school, failing to realize that Newspaper Z had actually picked School A to win.
  • Geometry has NOT been a good basis for predicting teams. In the results of one year’s poll, schools A, B, and C were picked as top teams.  School A beat School B, and then lost to School C.  School C then lost to School B.  Which team was the best?  More often than not, it was School D.
  • One coach told me that the reason his team had a successful year was because I didn’t pick his team and stated that they had no hope of winning a playoff game.  I found his comments amusing.  In my nine years of hosting “RCN Sports Talk“, I have never made a win/loss prediction for any scholastic game, let alone rip a high school program as he claimed to have heard me say when I made my supposed poll pick.
  • The polls can also aggravate local football fans.  Last year, four of our six voting announcers (did I mention I don’t make predictions already?!) selected the Pen Argyl Green Knights as the team to beat in the Colonial League.  The Green Knights then went on to win several district and state playoff games.  Strangely (and I admit THIS ONE annoyed me), two other media voices commented during Pen Argyl’s play-off run that no one in the area thought that Pen Argyl would make it to the post-season.  And that Pen Argyl’s championship win was completely unexpected.  Thank you to the numerous Green Knights’ fans who brought this to my attention.  I was thrilled and, quite frankly, impressed, that so many people remembered the RCN TV predictions from August.

(Curiously, all records of any of RCN TV’s incorrect predictions were burned in a mysterious fire – the same one that enveloped all of Joe Craig’s incorrect “Stone Cold Predictions” over the years.)

So what is my point?  These ranking polls and their accuracy mean NOTHING.  They’re for amusement purposes only and should be taken as such.  Local media members do an exceptional job bringing local sports to audiences – perhaps better than any scholastic region in the country.  The polls are meant to add some flavor to our coverage, and nothing more.  The steam that can erupt from the coaches’ and players’ ears when they learn that their ranking is below their team’s rival would be better served powering a small kitchen appliance than trying to get back at someone for “disrespecting them for their pick.”  This brings me to my rebellious decision:

For the first time in the history of RCN TV (including in its previous entities), we will NOT be doing a high school football poll this fall!

Oh, the horror… the nerve!  What gives Chris Michael the right to make a solitary decision and destroy decades of polling insights?  How will people sleep at night without an RCN high school football poll?

Okay, calm down.  I’ve spent months coming up with an idea to help you cope with this drastic and sacrilegious course of action.  My solution is:

The ANTI-Poll.

Not very inventive, I know.  And it could probably use a flashier name, with better SEO opportunity.  However, it’s the best I’ve got.

In lieu of a ranking educated guesses about the top teams in Lehigh Valley high school football, every two to three weeks, I’ll produce a random list of area teams based on impressions, facts, insights, etc., that I and other, more knowledgeable area football insiders observe.

The purpose of this insurrection?

To enhance RCN TV’s coverage of the sport, spotlight exceptional performances and give a few opinions on our local teams (in which I would not shed if you disagree with any or all of them).  Perhaps I’ll even add a morsel or two of information that you may or may not have heard in your travels and pigskin viewing.  And all this will be done without belittling students, putting down programs and disrespecting–TTTHHH teams, or any of the other comments I’ve heard from people who get angry at these rankings.

Feel free to email me your input at RCNSportsTalk@rcn.com.  I’ll be happy to read and even incorporate your opinions into the analysis during the course of the season.  Or you can state your case in person by calling in during  “RCN Sports Talk” every Thursday at 6 PM.  You can campaign, lobby or push for legislation to reverse this dramatic action, or get your local politicians involved for a complete reversal of this policy in time for Opening Day 2014!

But until then, please remember the premise, and keep it light this fall.

After all, it’s just for sport.