Rich Hammond posted a poll today about Drew Doughty. He asked for the readers’ opinion about the Drew Doughty contract. He gave three choices. Before the poll, he offered us this:

In a season in which expectations and hopes are high for the Kings, how much of an impact would this make? Should the Kings bite the bullet, and give Doughty what he wants, or hold their line and continue the staring contest?

I chuckled when I read this paragraph. Notice that the Kings giving Doughty what he “wants” requires the team to “bite the bullet”, implying an act and taste that is unwelcome while the other option is simply maintaining the status quo, an otherwise painless prospect. There is more to this, but let’s get to the poll. What choices were the readers offered?

Doughty is a ‘franchise player’ and should be paid as such.

A franchise player… in single quotes no less to bring emphasis.

Why is this option conditioned on the reader first concluding that Drew Doughty is a “franchise player”? That term, as it is generally understood, is the player around which the team (“franchise”) is built. This immediately (before we even get to the numbers) puts Drew in a battle for this title against Anze Kopitar. Thus, the reader, if he or she believes Kopitar to be the “franchise player” and not Doughty, will be inclined to stay away from this option, even if he or she believes Drew is worth $7 million (what Rich claims Doughty “potentially wants”). There is more.

Why not simply make the choice – “Pay Doughty $7 million” or “Pay Doughty what he wants.” Why the additional “as such” at the end which requires the reader to confirm, before clicking on this option, payment to Drew consistent with a belief that he is a “franchise player”? The phrasing of this choice bugs me. It’s biased, unintentionally so, as I don’t believe Rich intended it to be as such – pun intended – but it conditions any reader not otherwise persuaded Drew is a franchise player to stay away from it.

The Kings should not increase their offer to Doughty.

What offer is that? The only reference I see to any LA Kings’ offer is in a previous post that states, “The Kings, by all indications, are staying with their internal pledge to not give Doughty more than $6.8 million a year on a long-term contract.”

Is that the offer? “Long term contract” for $6.8 million per season. Is that a 9 year deal? 7? This choice is vague enough to let the reader use his or her own parameter for the “offer” made to Drew Doughty. That could result in individuals forming opinions (and clicking this box) based on incomplete information or, better stated, their own vague perspective of what the offer to Drew has been.

Imagine this choice was instead, “The Kings should not offer Doughty more than $6.8 million under any circumstance”. You see how taking that same vagueness can work the other way? A lot less people would have clicked on this option if it was written this way because now you are using this idea of an “offer”, without stating the length, to make the choice seem unreasonable or extreme.

No strong opinion. I don’t have enough facts to assign blame.

“Strong” opinion? Why does it have to be a lack of “strong” opinion?

“I don’t have enough facts to assign blame.” Why is there a fault component to this choice based on a lack of sufficient facts? You can figure out what this causes a reader to do, right? He or she first has to decide if they have a strong opinion one way or another and if the reader decides he or she does not, they then have to believe themselves uninformed to conclude either side is at fault.

Would it have been that difficult to eliminate all those preset conditions to this choice and simply written, “Undecided”? A nice, objective, one word term that doesn’t come with all the baggage versus taking those who are merely undecided (without regard to strength or fault) and leading them to form an opinion for the sake of participating in the poll?

Again, I don’t believe Rich purposefully did this. However, seeing how he is on the Kings’ payroll, has a large contingency of readers and this poll is intended to get the fan base’s opinion (which can be used for propaganda), I would have liked to see more care in its wording, especially if the goals were reliability, credibility and accuracy.