Failing Grade for the Playoff System
As we begin another winter season for the Bruins and Celtics, enjoy the return of Tom Brady and wonder what happened with the Red Sox, we turn our attention to the highly flawed MIAA High School Football Playoff System. When the pairings and seedings were released in late October, those who value and reward excellence were aghast at the long list of teams with failing grades that were rewarded with a spot in the playoffs.
In Eastern Massachusetts alone 33 teams with losing records made the playoffs. 33 teams! Twenty-two teams with records of 3 wins and 4 losses made it in...8 teams that went 2-5 went to the playoffs, two teams with a mark of 2-4 and one team that went 2-3 all qualified for the tournament. Looking a bit deeper, four teams that finished in LAST PLACE in their league are among this group and two teams that were WINLESS in their conference were given slots in the post season.
If these were academic test results, the grades for these records would be 43%, 40%, 33% and 8 teams with a score of 29%. I don't have to tell you what letter grade would be handed out for those scores: "F." It's not easy to win, but in this head scratching playoff system the MIAA has gone beyond rewarding mediocrity. It's the "everybody should get a trophy" mentality that drives winning programs crazy. No disrespect to any of the 33 teams that play hard, but if you don't win more than half your games, you don't belong in the playoffs. PERIOD! The crazy part about all of this is that the regular season is still being played by teams that did not qualify for the playoffs. Random opponents are selected for those teams, eliminating long standing league rivalries. High School Athletic Directors are scrambling to make up for revenue lost during the last three weeks of the regular season, not to mention the bath they take Thanksgiving morning since those games have been rendered meaningless with the new format.
"Everybody plays, everybody wins" is fine for T-ball and entry level youth sports. But sooner or later, life lessons have to be taught and learned at the high school level. Failure to perform, failure to meet minimum standards doesn't cut it in the classroom or the workplace and rewarding teams with losing records sends the wrong message by an organization that bills itself as the "other half" of education.