While most of the media’s attention has been centered on the possibility of the Missouri State High School Activities Association splitting up the public and private schools for state championship events, the membership recently approved Proposal No. 25 that ultimately could turn upside down the entire state football playoff system.
Proposal 25 allows the top two teams of each football district to advance to the state playoffs.
While this may not seem like a big deal to the average sports fan, it’s an attempt by two-thirds of the state to water down an already-watered-down system.
Back in the “old days” of high school football — yes, I’m talking nearly 20 years ago — the system rewarded those teams that played well for the entire regular season. Now there were times when a team could have a loss or two and not make the playoffs, but the system essentially kept teams with records of .500 or less from competing for a state championship.
Then in the late 1980s, the system changed to the district playoff format where the top team in each district advanced to the state playoffs.
Now there were times when teams — such as Oakville Senior High School this past season — were on a hot streak throughout the entire season and then would lose one of their three district games.
In most cases, that would eliminate them from the playoffs. But on the flip side, we would have teams that either had a .500 record going into districts or even just one win under their belts win three games and then advance to the state playoffs.
When will the time come in our politically correct society to say to our children: “Losing is a part of life and it’s something that we have to learn from to develop ourselves into better people?”
The new playoff system that will be incorporated in 2008 essentially could permit a team that’s winless throughout the regular season to win one game or even two and then advance just on points because they were runners-up in the district.
I’m sure that many of our readers are thinking that I’ve gone mad with such a scenario, but take a look at last year’s state playoffs.
In Class 5, William Chrisman (4-6), Park Hill (4-6) and Glendale (5-5) all advanced out of their districts and into the state semifinal game.
In Class 4, Cape Girardeau Central (4-6), St. Charles West (3-7) and Hickman Mills (4-6) all advanced out of their districts and into the state quarterfinal.
Class 3 was even more of an embarrassment as Owensville (5-5) and Chillicothe (5-5) advanced out of their districts with Owens-ville making it all the way to the state championship game and then proceed to get clobbered 56-21 by Harrisonville.
My point is that we already let teams that are mediocre at best advance into the state playoffs.
I personally felt bad for head coach Arlee Conners and the Oakville Senior High School football team last season when they lost to Mehlville 21-6, which eliminated them from the playoffs. But how anticlimactic would that game have been if it essentially meant nothing to either team?
How odd would it have been if Conners said to his troops: “We don’t really have to beat Mehlville to get into the playoffs. We only need to beat Fox and Northwest.”
The system as we knew it was an already-watered-down version of the original one. At the rate we’re going, the phrase “We’re going to state” soon will be chanted by every high school football team in the area.
Stephen Glover covers prep sports for the Call.