In order to know who is the No. 1 team in collegiate sports conferences, coaches and journalists vote in a weekly poll, with the two top polls for football and men’s basketball being the AP Writers Poll and the ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ Poll.
For football, the poll means much more than just bragging rights for being the No. 1 team in the nation, as the top two teams in the football poll play for the national championship at the end of the season.
Yet despite the poll’s heavy implications, the voice of the students has always been absent when the polls are voted on.
However, thanks to the efforts of Georgetown graduate Igor Khayet and University of Kansas senior Daniel Singer, that voice will now be heard.
Khayet and Singer have co-founded the Student Writer Poll, a Web site that allows the sports editors of collegiate newspapers from around the country to blog, post articles and most significantly, vote in their newly created Sports Editor Poll.
The Web site was launched at the end of February and still hasn’t reached its full potential, according to Khayet and Singer.
Nevertheless, the Student Writers Poll is already generating national interest. Currently, 45 editors have officially signed up and approximately another 25 have given verbal commitments.
Since it is so new, many students have yet to hear about studentwriterpoll.com,however, the concept is something which many students are starting to embrace.
“I think it’s about time students get a say in the polls,” sophomore Eric Morris said. “(The students) are the ones who actually attend the schools and deserve a voice.”
One fear of Khayet and Singer was that the student poll wouldn’t be taken seriously, and that the editors would be biased toward their own school. However, they believe that the editors will handle themselves professionally and be honest when voting in the polls.
“As qualified journalists, these writers have been taught how to be objective in their work, and there is no reason that this practice cannot carry over into their voting,” Singer said. “If coaches can be trusted to remain unbiased when voting on the very teams they compete against, it is reasonable to believe that students can do the same.”
Khayet and Singer’s ultimate goal is to produce a mainstream poll composed of student voters that is nationally recognized and included along with the other major rankings.
“Ideally we would like to become the third mainstream poll,” Singer said. “It seems like that’s not too unrealistic; we’ve already got major publications on board and we’ve already had good publicity and good momentum. At the very least we’ll provide an interesting look at college sports from a perspective that has been unrepresented in the past.”
Although the Web site’s main function is to host the poll, it has a variety of other features as well.
The Question of the Day allows the general public to share its opinion on current sports-related topics. This is all in addition to the regular posting of articles written by students from college newspapers from all over the country.
“The original idea was just to have a poll with sports editors voting,” Singer said. “Once we realized that we had a bigger opportunity here to get the whole sports journalism community together, that’s when the Web site idea came into being.”
Adding the extra features allow students to see what other college newspapers are writing.
“I think the site is interesting because you get to see articles from all over the country,” Morris said. “It would create great drama between rival schools, seeing what the other has to say about one another.”
If the site is to work, Singer and Khayet hope that the editors take the poll seriously.
“These aren’t just students, they’re very knowledgeable students who follow these teams day in and day out for four years as sports editors,” Khayet said. “They’re also a journalist, which means they shouldn’t have bias, and that adds credibility to the process.”
The first Student Writer Poll will be released with the start of the 2007 college football season.