Every Monday afternoon the Associated Press releases its men's college basketball poll.
Within minutes of that posting, commenters on Kansas.com celebrate, denounce, dissect and repudiate those rankings.
Why is Kansas ranked that high? Why is Kansas State below North Carolina? Why isn't Wichita State ranked? Who the heck is voting for Harvard?
Each vote is viewed as a validation of one's personal theory: "See, these East Coast snobs don't understand basketball in the Midwest." Or "This goes to show you schedule matters." And "Is there some law that Duke has to be in the top 10?"
Do rankings really matter?
Any good coach versed in the art of coachspeak would say no: "I don't know how they think our team is No. 3. I see these guys in practice every day, and it doesn't seem like we could beat anyone."
Until he talks about the opposing team — then it becomes a race to heap platitudes on Team X. "Look, we've got the No. 14 team in the country coming in here. We take that very seriously."
Instinctively, sports fans like teams to be ranked. It gives us a way to assess unfamiliar foes. It's shorthand to weigh each victory or loss.
More importantly, it allows us to mock other fanbases.
We can pull out the ever-popular "Over-rated" chant, when our team is beating a ranked opponent. Of course, the logic of that has always been lost on me. Wouldn't a win against an overrated opponent be less impressive than one against a properly ranked or underrated one? Don't we diminish our team's accomplishment by dismissing the quality of the other team?
Rankings also give us instructions.
Is a win over this opponent one that justifies storming the court? I'd say the cut off is top 10, if your team is unranked. If your team is ranked, it's a breech of etiquette to leave your seats for anything less than beating a top-3 opponent.
Rankings give us motivation.
An athlete may look at his team's poll standings and say "Nobody thought we could do it!" (which actually wasn't true, some voters thought you could do it, just not as many as the other team.)
It prepares the athlete for the game to come. As one high school athlete told The Eagle years ago, "They were ranked in the 'others' so we knew they were good."
Ultimately that's why we have rankings.
Otherwise we wouldn't know one "other" from the rest of the 320 teams.
And how would we know how good our teams were? Oh right, the results of actual games.
Apologize, rinse, repeat — By this point in baseball's performance enhancing drugs scandal, we've gotten into a routine for stars to admit their wrongdoing.
Mark McGwire's tear-filled interview this week was par for the course, generally confirming what most had suspected.
The cycle continues as inevitably some praise the athlete for being forthcoming, while others blast him for the transgression in the first place.
My favorite part of the process is when other athletes chime in.
Hall of Fame pitcher Goose Gossage's take?
"The integrity of the Hall of Fame and the numbers and the history are all in jeopardy." he told Associated Press. "I don't think they should be recognized."
Goose, you're certainly entitled to your opinion, but may I offer mine?
What about the election of mediocre candidates such as yourself to the Hall of Fame in recent years? Doesn't that also throw the integrity of the Hall into question?
Is it likely I'm ever going to take my nephews to Cooperstown and say, wow, here's Gary Carter or Andre Dawson's plaque? Or here's Bruce Sutter and Goose Gossage?
Former slugger Jack Clark was even less diplomatic.
"They're all creeps. All these guys have been liars," Clark told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
That may be true, Jack. Chances are, I'm a lot more likely to talk about the time I saw a skinny McGwire nearly hit the ball over Tiger Stadium's roof than I am to speak of any of your 340 home runs.
I'll tell my nephews about all the negative stuff of the era, too, but I'm not going to forget the accomplishments either.
Just like I'm not going to ignore the great moments of other tainted eras like those of segregation, gambling, amphetamines or cocaine.
The game survives despite its creeps.
Run 'n' Gun is The Eagle Sports staff's weekly look at the offbeat side of sports.