Tournament seeding is a lot like national health care.  Only much less important.

But just as support for national health care reform wanes as people wallow in the details, so does support for seeding MHSAA tournaments.

Many people oppose tournament seeding.  But many other people favor the idea.  However, the idea some people have in their minds is not the idea other people have in theirs; so the result often is that even proponents of seeding cannot form consensus for any one idea.

There is nothing wrong educationally with conducting MHSAA tournaments without seeding, nor are there any education-based reasons that compel tournament seeding or make it better than random draws of schools grouped by their proximity.  This topic is more about personal preferences than core philosophical principles of educational athletics, but still it can stimulate strenuous debate.

“Purists” line up on both sides, some wishing to preserve the best teams for marquis matchups in the finals; others cherishing the charm of high school sports’ traditional blind draw and an occasional deep tournament run by a team with a losing record.  Seeding has the potential to increase the “buzz” around our tournaments, but equal potential to increase the controversy as the placement of teams is criticized.

The MHSAA Representative Council determined several years ago that it would neither require nor reject seeding for all MHSAA tournaments, but would respond on a case-by-case basis as detailed proposals gained support among those involved with each sport.  Today there is seeding for boys lacrosse, but not girls; seeding of the eight quarterfinalists in each division of the Team Wrestling Tournament in Battle Creek; seeding by computer averages for Football Districts; and seeding for MHSAA Tennis Finals and Individual Wrestling Districts.

Seeding has some potential to increase gate receipts, but it also has the potential to increase some participating schools’ travel costs, as well as the length of trips on school nights.  And right now, any seeding plan that adds to costs for participating schools has little chance of adoption for any sport at any level.

Posted in: Tournaments


# Adam
Tuesday, March 9, 2010 10:51 AM
While I am a supporter of seeding generally, I am only in favor of it when you're talking about "schools grouped by their proximity." That is what troubles me about the Boys Lacrosse seeding; as I understand it, the top few teams are seeded on a Statewide basis, and are thus split up into different Regionals. I question how consistent this is with educational athletics.

On the other hand, I have no problem with the other instances of seeding you mentioned, and would like to see the practice expanded. Once you've drawn your geographic Districts, it seems entirely appropriate to order the teams. With the MHSAA's expansion of the website to be a way of collecting significantly greater amounts of information about teams, I think some extension of the Football "playoff points" method would be the best and easiest way of seeding teams within geographic Districts, and would also encourage teams to be more cooperative with submitting their season results to you, making your website that much more attractive to the high school sports community.
# Steve
Tuesday, March 9, 2010 8:59 PM
I support seeding when there is no increase in expenses. Anytime the participants are at the same location (team wrestling) seeding makes sense. It should be expanded in other sports - baseball / softball final four - is a perfect example.
Robert Frantti
# Robert Frantti
Wednesday, March 10, 2010 6:35 AM
Minnesota has a good format for seeding their high school hockey state tournament. The coaches of the participating teams rank the other 7 schools in the tournament. The top four are seeded, with their quarterfinal opponent selected by a blind draw. I believe they do the same for some of the other sports.
# Jim
Saturday, March 13, 2010 4:42 PM
Ohio has been seeding basketball and volleyball tournaments at the lowest level of the tournament (Sectionals in Ohio but Districts in Michigan) for as long as I can remember. It is very simple. Teams are still grouped geographically in Districts and instead of a blind draw, coaches seed the teams based on a vote. They vote for the #1 seed first and then for the #2 seed. Those teams are placed in opposite brackets. Then a blind draw is conducted with the remaining 3-5 teams left. In that blind draw teams draw a number and whomever gets #3 places themselves on the bracket where they want to go. For example, maybe the #3 team thinks the #1 seeded team is a better match-up for them, so they place themselves in their bracket. Then, the #4 team does the same and the rest of them until the brackets are filled. Ohio loves it.
# Ken
Sunday, March 14, 2010 9:52 AM
The arguement that seeding would increase costs is a weak one. MHSAA continues to make peculiar decisions---there should be a consistency across all sports. Hockey is a good example where seeding the playoffs would be beneficial. Many times over the years a top team who had a great season find themselves playing another top-ranked team in the pre-regionals. MHSAA should take the best from other states and incorporate them for Michigan. Another example of MHSAA indecisiveness is that they can't even get minutes played in a period of hockey correct. Some leagues play 15min. while others play 17min. Last time I checked the little guys play 15min. periods.

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