Eight-Player Options
Eight-Player Options
Blog: From the Director, Football
Posted Friday, March 10, 2017

Put this in the category of “No good deed goes unpunished.”

In 2011, the MHSAA provided an additional playoff for Class D schools sponsoring 8-player football. This helped save football in some schools and helped return the game of football to other schools. But now that the number of 8-player programs has expanded from two dozen in 2011 to more than 60, there are complaints:

  • Some complaints come out of a sense of entitlement that all final games in both the 8-player and 11-player tournament deserve to be played at Ford Field.

  • Some complaints come from Class C schools whose enrollments are too large for the 8-player tournament. Class C schools which sponsor the 8-player game have no tournament at all in which to play, regardless of where the finals might be held.

  • Some complaints come from Class D schools which protest any suggestion that Class C schools – even the smallest – be allowed to play in the 8-player tournament.

There are now three scenarios emerging as the most likely future for 8-player football:

  • The original plan ... A five-week, 32-team tournament for Class D schools only, with the finals at a site to be determined, but probably not Ford Field.

  • Alternative #1 ... Reduce the 11-player tournament to seven divisions and make Division 8 the 8-player tournament with 32 Class D teams in a five-week tournament, ending at Ford Field.

  • Alternative #2 ... Conduct the 8-player tournament in two divisions of 16 Class D teams, competing in a four-week playoff ending in a double-header at the Superior Dome on the Saturday before Thanksgiving.

The pros and cons of these options are being widely discussed. Sometimes the discussions have a tone that is critical of the MHSAA, which comes from those who forget that it was the MHSAA itself which moved in 2011 to protect and promote football by adding the 8-player playoff tournament option for its smallest member schools. That Class D schools now feel entitled to the Ford Field opportunity and Class C schools want access to an 8-player tournament is not unexpected; but criticism of the MHSAA’s efforts is not deserved.


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