Photo by Brock Kennedy
Story by J.D. McKay
Of the sports associations I pay attention to — NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, NCAA, and IHSAA — IHSAA is probably the most well run. I cannot recall a time where I heard that they laid out a significant ruling on a team for next to nothing like the NCAA just did to Mary Hardin-Baylor, who recently had their 2016 championship revoked because a coach allowed a football player to use his car.
The IHSAA rule most often criticized is the transfer rule. To explain it in one sentence, if a player wants to transfer the athletic director must sign off that he or she can play at the school they are transferring to. I do not have any problems with this rule. However, I do see three noticeable flaws in the IHSAA.
One is that not all sports are classed and I already wrote a column about that (read here https://wordpress.com/view/fchsbagpiper.wordpress.com), and the other is that not all deserving athletes can make the state tournament in individual sports (read here https://wordpress.com/view/fchsbagpiper.wordpress.com). The third is that the IHSAA does not seed team sports.
So, it is possible that next year New Albany and Jeff could be top five or even the top two basketball teams on the state. Then, when sectionals roll around in March, if their ping pong balls roll out first, they could be playing each other on a Tuesday night in Seymour. That would be the most anticlimactic way for a game of that caliber to go down, and I think most of my readers would agree that it should not be that way.
This year, there was an unlucky draw that affected our volleyball team a little bit. They have Providence, a top 25 volleyball team in the country, in their sectional. Providence should have had one of the byes as well as New Albany, because they beat us in the regular season. Then, we would have probably played Seymour before playing New Albany. However, we got the bye and will be facing the winner of Providence and Jennings County. Had that sectional been seeded, we probably would have gotten another shot at New Albany and maybe one more game for our seniors.
Supporters of the blind draw would say that sometimes you just need to play with the cards you have been dealt and suck it up. However, if that is the case, some coaches could not play regular season with the intention of winning. If they had a really good team that had almost no depth, they could play their studs for a quarter, then put in the JV to avoid injuring the stars until the postseason. I am not saying I view it like this, but in the right situation it might make sense.
As I have made clear, the solution to this is seeding. It makes sense to have the team with the best record against other sectional teams to play the worst team first and to play both games at home. Sectionals where the teams do not play each other could be a problem. However, the tournament makes could compare their records, and records against teams that teams several of the teams in the section have played. If that does not solve the problem, the IHSAA could look at total points scored and points allowed to make their seedings.
There are a few situations where it would not make sense to just give home field to the top team, though. For example, it makes sense to play basketball sectionals at Seymour because they have one of the biggest high school gyms in the world. Those could be decided by the IHSAA and, if needed, the teams in the sectional.
Some times, the ball does role in your favor and fixes seeding on its own. Football was 3-0 in the regular season against three sectional teams that are all pretty good. So, FC gets the team with the worst record, Bedford at home and the winner of Jeff versus New Albany at home. Plus, Jeff beat New Albany in the regular season, so it makes sense that they have home field advantage against the Dogs. It should make for an interesting November at Ron Weigleb Stadium.
And, while I am mentioning football sectionals, come out and support the Highlanders on Nov. 1 against Bedford.