Every time the Michigan High School Athletic Association Football Playoffs have been expanded, two voices have been heard – one complaining that too many teams or divisions have watered down the tournament; the other advocating that every school should qualify for the tournament regardless of its regular-season performance.
The playoffs have expanded from 32 to 64 to 128 to 256 to 272 teams; and for 2017, with the addition of 16 more 8-player teams, to 288 of the 626 MHSAA member schools’ football teams in Michigan.
We have reached the point where 46 percent of the schools which sponsor football qualify for the Football Playoffs, and we are approaching closely the point of qualifying every team with winning records during the regular season.
Those stats sound about right for a collision sport conducted mostly outdoors in a cold climate for teenagers. A longer tournament is unwise; a larger tournament is unneeded.
What is needed and wise is more attention to the regular season, and especially to practices which occur at least five times more frequently than games. That’s where the teaching and learning of football skills and life lessons can be everyday occurrences for every team in Michigan.