The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Sunday, December 22, 2002

This was a somewhat enjoyable little screed. Sports Illustrated's Rick Reilly goes ballistic over the over-abundance of instant online polls.

I gotta admit I agree with him on the bulk of this. Putting up a poll to get public opinion on whether or not a knee injury looks serious--and this isn't much of an exaggeration, as I've seen daily polls, in sports and elsewhere, ask similarly inane questions--is just plain dumb. It's the result of the pressure of requiring the inclusion of some, any, poll topic on a site, and probably a poor understanding of the basic purpose of a poll (you don't ask for opinions on matters of fact).

Reilly does reveal himself to be an out-of-step curmudgeon in one instance:

Ask yourself this: How blinklessly bored do you have to be to sit there watching SportsCenter, hear that Stuart Scott needs you, leave your La-Z-Boy, run to your computer, log on, find the poll site and vote? I mean, have you even heard of the opposite sex?

I guess he's unfamiliar with the concept of having your computer set up in the same room that you television is in; I believe public opinion research has found that about half of households are set up like this now. Not to mention that as laptops wireless networks become more popular, this also makes it easier to enjoy the boob tube and the Web simultaneously. So it's not like all those thousands of Monday Night Football viewers are running from the couch to the "computer room" to vote on the play of the night.