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Prep Talk: Politics, schmolitics

For those of you who have accused us of it, we’re coming clean.

Because you are absolutely correct: The Buffalo News plays favorites when it comes to selecting the All-Western New York teams.

Our favorites are — sorry, but we’re going to let some of you down here — who we think are the best players who had the best seasons.

Every year when we publish our All-WNY issues (The News picks only the football and basketball teams), there is a usual, understandable, emotional reaction, one that is most visceral when it is coming from those who disagree with our selections.

I’ll be conducting a live chat tonight at 9 at’s Prep Talk blog about the teams that were published in last Saturday’s All-Western New York basketball issue. I’ll be doing my best to explain our selections as I take questions and comments, while I’ll also address some inquiries (and other much less-dignified things) that appeared on my Twitter page over the weekend.

But there’s one thing I wanted to swat away before it even got close to the basket. There’s a one-word claim that inevitably comes up every year after the All-Western New York selections. Acknowledged as a fairly dirty word in its primary usage, it is one that nearly throws me into a double-technical-foul rage when it is all-too-casually thrown around at this time of year.

That word is “politics.”

Within minutes of the announcement of this year’s basketball teams late Friday night, if you did a Twitter search for “All-WNY,” you’d find that word. Back in the pre-Twitter days, you’d find it on the blog or live chat. Go back a decade (or five), and I’m sure it was muttered as one held their newspaper and shook their head in disagreement.

And, no matter how it is expressed, it’s a hollow, weak claim. It’s the laziest, throw-your-hands-up, let’s-not-even-have-a-discussion excuse. It’s a blanket term that takes any debate away before it starts. It’s weak, hollow and meaningless. Inane. Asinine. Any similarly-strong word that can be printed in a newspaper.

The picks don’t line up to how one thinks they should be? “Politics.” There are a bunch of selections from certain leagues? “Politics.” One team has a couple of All-WNYers high up on the list? “Politics.”

Having people disagree with the All-WNY team is part of the game, and it always has been. We watch games, we pore over results, we look at the playoffs, we compare players from all over Western New York. We solicit feedback. We analyze votes. We see what coaches, pollsters and scouts think. We do our best to make the best selections.

Are we totally right? We sure think so and hope so, but I’m certainly not going to claim that our free-throw percentage (or completion percentage in the fall) is 1.000.

And if we’re wrong, it’s not because of you-know-what.

Politics? I’d rather people call me an idiot (of course, that has already happened on Twitter, which is fine).

The inferences when one cries (and that is the absolutely appropriate verb to use here) “politics” reek of mistrust, corruption and favoritism, connotations that can be blamed on eons of leaders who have twisted the P-word into something beyond its dictionary definition of “the art or science of government.”

Someone got something they didn’t deserve. Someone got something because they know somebody.

Someone got something because of any reason other than they deserved it.

When it comes to the All-WNY team, certain leagues or teams might be represented more than others. Maybe – just maybe – that’s because those are the better leagues, which have most of the better teams, which have most of the better players?

That’s the answer. The All-WNY selections are made because we think those are the best players. We’re right. Or we’re wrong. That’s it.

BIG weekend

• Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer of Cheektowaga made national wrestling news not only in winning the National High School Wrestling Championships in Virginia Beach, Va., but with the “flying squirrel” move he used to do it. It earned him Most Outstanding Wrestler honors in the 138-pound junior class. Watch the move at the Prep Talk blog at

• All-WNY junior running back Qadree Ollison of Canisius was offered by Rutgers after a weekend trip and was offered by Iowa on Tuesday.

• Reggie Agbeko, a 2012 All-WNY first teamer for St. Joe’s who spent this year at South Kent (Conn.) prep school, committed to Saint Louis University on Saturday.