Written by John Giffin Tuesday, 16 February 2010 20:29
The more I learn about the way the Kansas State High School Activities Association handles certain areas of high school athletics, the more I wonder why some things are done the way they are.
I ask myself:
• Why are points more important than head-to-head competition when it comes to football district play?
• Why does Class 4A have so many more schools than the other classes?
• Why do private schools not have a classification of their own?
• Why is there no all-class championship?
So, I’m going to take this opportunity to share how things would be done if I were king of the KSHSAA.
A change to the current classification system would offer solutions to those questions.
There are six classifications for Kansas high schools, but seven for football: 8-Man Division II, with an enrollment range of 60- 24 students in grades 9-11; 8-Man Division I, with 100-61 students; 2-1A with 119-75 students; 3A with 198-120 students; 4A with 532-199 students; 5A with 973-554 students; and 6A with 1,823-1,000 students.
In my system, Kansas would have five classifications for football, four for the other team sports.
Classes 6A and 5A would combine for Class 1, 4A would become Class 2, 3A, 2A and 1A would become Class 3, Class 4 would consist of Kansas private schools, and in football there would be an eight-man division. In other sports, the eight-man schools would join Class 3.
Following each class’s playoffs, the class champion would enter a four-team playoff for the overall state championship. Instead of a district and sub state format for the class playoffs, a system based on regular season records and strength of schedule will be used to determine class playoff teams.
I can only imagine some of the matchups in November, March and May. In football, Hutchinson vs. Smith Center. In volleyball, Moundridge vs. Washburn Rural. In basketball, Wichita Collegiate against Topeka-Highland Park. In baseball, Pittsburg-St. Mary’s Colgan against Topeka-Seaman. In softball, Sacred Heart vs. Olathe-East.
A new classification system would not only provide some exciting postseason matchups but would make regular seasons mean more.
Because of the current system, I witnessed a 7-2 Junction City team miss the 6A football playoffs while four teams with losing records found a spot in the first round.
In the 2009 3A state playoffs, six teams who finished the regular season under .500 earned a spot in the first round. Only Riley County advanced, matched against 4-5 Effingham-Atchison County Community. The Falcons fell to Rossville 42-36 in the second round.
I have heard several people say they like the way the high school system is now because until a team does not perform in the district playoffs, they are not out of contention for a state title.
Despite creating some great Cinderella stories, the current system is unfair to teams that have put together stellar regular seasons. Many state-caliber teams fall short of the playoffs because they don’t run up the score against a district opponent, or are in a district with several state-playoff-caliber teams.
All in all, the current system is too confusing, does not exploit intriguing interclass matchups and does not determine the best overall team in the state in any sport.
If I were king of the KSHSAA, that would all change.