Tournament Classification
Blog: From the Director
Posted Tuesday, July 13, 2010

When MHSAA tournaments began in the early 1900s, high schools were much more alike in size, type and demographics than high schools are today.  There was some variety, of course, but far less than today.

Now, with such a wide variety of type of school and so much variance within each type of school, we may need to find new ways to promote competitive equity in MHSAA tournaments; in other words, new ways to group schools for competition.

Except for expanding the number of classes, and then moving in most sports from traditional classes to divisions with the same number of teams in each division, there hasn’t been much change in the way we’ve grouped schools for tournaments in almost 100 years, while schools have been changing greatly, especially so during the past 15 years.

I don’t mean putting nonpublic or charter schools in separate tournaments.  That would create impossible travel and financial burdens for these schools; it would increase travel distances and expenses for the remaining schools; and it would result in much larger enrollment ranges for remaining schools, resulting in greater concerns for competitive equity than exist today.  Be wary of “simple solutions” for they rarely are either simple or solutions.

Objectively, we do have some schools that seem to have a competitive advantage over other schools in some sports.  Some of them are nonpublic schools, some are public school academies, and some are traditional public schools.  Objectively, we do have some schools that never have any MHSAA tournament success in any sport.  And some of those are nonpublic schools, some are public school academies, and some are traditional public schools.

It is not the legal status of a school that’s the predictor; and penalizing programs after success somehow seems un-American.  I believe the proper approach to this topic is to be dissatisfied with the status quo, skeptical of simple solutions, and open-minded to more thoughtful ideas, which I’ll suggest next time.


# gw
Friday, December 30, 2011 7:26 PM
Go to equal divisions in Volleyball, Boys and Girls Basketball, and Soccer. That'd be a good start.
# gw
Friday, December 30, 2011 7:26 PM
Good topic to bring up. I live in Royal Oak, where the Ravens are coming off of back-to-back 0-9 football seasons (where most games were 50-0 thrashings), and both the boys ice hockey and basketball teams were demolished in the MSHAA tourney by Brother Rice.

(I do know that the old Royal Oak Kimball, had some football success about 5-10 years ago [the merger with Dondero happend about 4 years ago], so this is not a rant that RO never sees any wins. And they did have some success at the district level in volleyball.)

But to this point, I sometimes think that the MHSAA should have some kind of "elite" division, where the schools that are sports powerhouses could opt-in, mostly play themselves (but of course, could still play "those regular division teams"), and have their own playoffs.

You have to consider television. With the Lebron James decision last week, ESPN had been replaying his old high school games. Now, if I remember, MHSAA disallows live television games except for the state finals (and added a SF football game in recent years). If you stick to that rule, then the "elite's" would consider leaving the MSHAA altogether. Allowing more TV time could keep the "elites" in the fold.

Interesting that this discussion also comes amid the NCAA conference re-alignments, where after (very) much talk, only two or three teams ended up moving. The Mega-Conference route would have seemed to be the "simple solution," but it was not the easiest thing to implement.
# gw
Friday, December 30, 2011 7:27 PM
I'm looking forward to your ideas and am happy to see an official acknowledgement that the playing field isn't level. I favor a multiplier for private schools or for public schools that have a signifigant draw from outside their normal boundary. The multiplier should be different depending on how many students you draw from. That way, the multiplier would be smaller for say Gaylord St. Mary's than what it would be for Jackson Lumen Christi. Public schools with a significant number of students living outside their school boundaries would be subjected to the same multiplier. The multiplier might be say 1.25 or 1.5 times their enrollment which would move them up a class or two in football, or perhaps a division in other sports.
# gw
Friday, December 30, 2011 7:28 PM
Equal Divisions as ADAM suggested. For example Soccer Division 4 has a considerable amount less of teams playing for a Title. All the MHSAA has to do is Divide all the participating schools by 4 and that is how many teams will be participating in the Divisions. This places an equal amount of teams in each division.

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