As the 2010 Girls Basketball Tournament enters its final week and Boys Basketball Regionals are being contested, it’s a good time to report that a different format for District tournaments is being discussed.  We call it the “non-traditional” draw.

Rather than designating one school to host all District games, in the non-traditional draw, one of the teams is playing at home.  This is required for several Basketball and Girls Volleyball Districts, and optional at all, but there is sentiment – perhaps growing – that the exception should become the rule.  That is, that the non-traditional draw should be required for most Districts in these sports.

The Representative Council will be talking about this (no action is scheduled) at its meeting March 26.  Here are just some of the advantages and disadvantages that may be discussed:


  1. Reduces travel for one team.
  2. Likely to increase gate and concessions sales.
  3. Single-game format reduces time, avoids late nights.
  4. Single-game format allows smaller facilities to host.
  5. Single-game format gives almost every school a chance to host, not just the schools with large gyms; “spreads the wealth.”
  6. Single-game format reduces security costs.
  7. May reduce some MME conflicts which prevent schools from hosting the full tournament.


  1. Some gyms are not as desirable as others.
  2. No longer neutral courts for most teams.
  3. The “home game” attitude may make conditions less hospitable and sportsmanlike than is desired for MHSAA tournaments.

Perhaps the biggest hurdle is that it’s just different – non-traditional – and would represent a paradigm shift for these century-old events.  However, in spite of what the Federal courts did to Michigan’s sports seasons, we still believe that doing things differently isn’t wrong; it may mean doing things better for everyone involved.

Posted in: Tournaments


# Adam
Friday, March 19, 2010 12:56 PM
Personally, I don't like the non-traditional format. I like knowing that some designated host school is "where the action's at" for basketball (or volleyball or whatever). It is intimately tied into what I think makes the tournament feel as special as it does.

There are lots of things I think the MHSAA could or should tinker with (for example, seeding teams within Districts once they are grouped geographically (but not before)). I do not have a knee-jerk reaction against change. But this is not something I would like to see changed.
ken dettloff
# ken dettloff
Friday, March 19, 2010 6:49 PM
I think that quarter finals and above should be played in neutral site. No league ties for either team with non area referees officiating. This would be fair. How many colleges aren't using their gyms. Equal driving distance for each time. Instead of teams traveling four miles while the other team travels over sixty miles. This would be the fairest way. Some of the small school gyms are terribly light and rundown. Why not show case the College gyms and have neutral sites.
# Dave
Friday, March 19, 2010 8:23 PM
District seeding should be instituted. Top seeds playing home throughout, after that split the region travel in half no matter what. If the gym is packed that only adds to the hype of the game . What more can you ask for...full house and standing room only. Many of these kids will never get the chance to play in such an atmosphere again. How you get there is the question.
# Doug
Saturday, March 20, 2010 12:41 PM
I have heard the recommendation of "seeding" mentioned many times over the years. I have two questions: How is it determined? Who decides? For example: you have two teams, one is 13-7 and plays in a difficult league while another is 17-3 but plays in what is generally thought of as an inferior league. Who gets the higher seed? Is it just on wins or does "strength of schedule" factor in? If so, how is "strength of schedule" determined? What do you do if two teams finish 10-10 (or similar)? How do you determine seeding? What do you do if a district has five teams from four or five different leagues?

In our boy's district this year the three best teams, by anyone's estimation, were on one side of the draw. There were no complaints and no criticisms because it has always been true in the tournaments that "you have to beat everyone" no matter when you play.

Keep it the same. Its not broke; don't "fix: it.
Chuck Krafft
# Chuck Krafft
Saturday, March 20, 2010 10:50 PM
I honestly like the tournament the way it is. Most teams except for possibly the Class A and B teams in the UP don't have to travel all that far for their district games. After the district, the travel affects relatively few teams.

Part of the charm of the tournament is the possibility that a Cinderella can make a run. In the end, seeding the districts would only extend the run of a "superlative" team by a game or so anyway. A preceding poster also makes a valid point that there is probably no way to fairly seed the teams barring an NCAA-like commitee that could not possibly be all that well-informed about teams outside their areas.

The tournament is not broke, for God's sake. It does not need any sort of a major change. Besides, giving half the teams a home game during the district puts a visiting team at a huge disadvantage a lot more often than having one of five or six teams hosting a district does. This is an acinine suggestion.
Carol J Seavoy
# Carol J Seavoy
Sunday, March 21, 2010 6:43 PM
Keep it the way it is. It is a treat to be able to watch different schools at the same site. It also makes it possible for coaches to see the teams they may have to play next in the district tournament. Having several schools at the same site as it is now, makes the districts special.
# Phil
Monday, March 22, 2010 1:29 PM
I wouldn't mess with districts or regionals for basketball and volleyball. The current system is exciting and traditional. Sometimes tradition is a good thing.

What I would explore is having flexible quarterfinal sites for both sports. You can predetermine a QF site like we do now, however, be more willing to change the location if it better suits the 2 teams. In basketball, there is nearly 1 week between the regional finals and the quarterfinals. If a change is necessary, there would be plenty of time to do so.

For example, Bay City All Saints plays Marine City Cardinal Mooney tomorrow in a Class D QF. Why in the name of logic is this game at Waterford Mott??? It should be moved to a school in the Flint area with an good size gym. Flint would be a perfect location in between Bay City and Marine City.

Just a thought.
# Rob
Monday, March 22, 2010 10:58 PM
The current system is okay, but with some tweaks. An example is Sutton's Bay vs Rudyard, with the Quarterfinal being in the SOO, which is jusy crazy, when there is a very good neutral site in Petoskey, that is half-way for both schools. Less expense to go to the game for fans, with an even drive. The MHSAA needs to be flexible in this type of situation.
ken dettloff
# ken dettloff
Monday, March 22, 2010 11:41 PM
seeding based on a system that is used in football makes sense. Quarter finals and above at neutral sites such as colleges with equal distances for both teams. Why should a Detroit team travel all the way to Montrose and its opponent be only 4 miles away. There are numerous colleges, community colleges and university gyms that would be superior to play in and give each side fairer travel distance for teams and fans.
# Adam
Tuesday, March 23, 2010 3:00 PM
Yeah I was going to say, just use a Football-type formula to seed the teams. That way there's no voting or committee that you can complain about being biased. It would also encourage greater compliance with getting game results submitted to the MHSAA website, which is better for everybody.
# Mike
Wednesday, March 24, 2010 11:24 PM
I like the idea of a non-traditional system it reduces cost for one of the schools and may increase revenue for both the home team and the MHSAA.

I would like to see flexable scheduling of gyms for the regional level and above. This year I witnessed 4 schools Sanford-Meridian, Saginaw Buena Vista, Brown City, and Harbor Beach all drive 1.5 to 2 hours to a regional site in New Haven when a more centrally located neutral school could have been found. Another example was Port Hope Girls vs Deckerville for the regional finals drive all the way to Saginaw when they are probably only located 30 miles apart why not meet at a Neutral School in the middle (it is a 2.5 hr drive from Port Hope to Saginaw).

I think all of these options need to be explored especially when many schools are cutting back on sports this may be a way of preserving athletics for a while longer.
# Jim
Thursday, March 25, 2010 12:54 PM
I like the idea of a non-traditional system for the districts, reduced the travel time for the schools.

I would like to see flexable scheduling of gyms for the regional level and Good gyms only for the size of the schools.

Quarterfinals should be at college gyms and half way between the schools. Cut down the travel time and cost.

Get back to the college gyms and support the state colleges.
ken dettloff
# ken dettloff
Monday, March 29, 2010 8:16 AM
I think that true neutral sites for quarter finals and above make sense. Use the college gyms in the area. It would be great at the district level and regional level too. Some schools played in dumps. Why not show case the best and brightest teams in the best and brightest gyms.
Friday, April 9, 2010 12:42 PM
The only way to really fix the districts is to quit loading one district with 4-5 top teams and a poor district with all the teams having poor records...seeding would be nice before the Districts begin.

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