Extra Points: Brian Spano 10/13

Brian Spano

By Brian Spano PrepsKC Senior Writer
Posted: October 13, 2011 - 12:57 PM

So now it begins, and ends in a way. As we mark the eve of the 2011 district playoffs, excitement builds, tension rises and the emotions flow. I love this time of year because now the games count. They really mean something because this determines whether or not a high school football team that may or may not have had a good season gets a second chance.
But there’s something troubling me, and I’ve remained silent on this issue for quite some time. Next year, the playoff system in Missouri will change. We knew this was coming some time ago. Most people like it because it will give every team a chance.
I realize a lot has already been written and debated about this, and I’m certain more will be written and debated when the system goes into full effect next season.
In a nutshell, the new format has every team playing a nine-game regular season, with the 10th week as the first game of the playoffs. In the playoffs, teams will be placed in eight-team districts that will be seeded based upon the first nine weeks of the season. I won’t bore you with the details of how the teams will be seeded because I didn’t get a PhD in mathematics.
If it isn’t painfully obvious to you by now, I’m not a huge fan of the new playoff system. The current system has been around just four years. It was expanded at that time to allow the top two teams in a district to advance into the postseason as opposed to just the district champion. There was a point system in place to determine tiebreakers.
I like this system because, yes, it does give more teams an opportunity to compete and make the postseason, but it isn’t an “everybody makes the postseason” format. I look at it as “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
But the folks at the Missouri State High School Activities Association felt a change to the system needed to be made. The new system feels to me like everyone will receive their ribbon for participation.
Look, in sports, and life for that matter, there is a winner, and there is a loser. Kids at this age are mature enough to accept, handle and live with that, and isn’t that a lesson we should be teaching them at this age anyway? OK, maybe I’m getting a bit too deep here.
Now, maybe after some time, I’ll come to adjust and learn to like the new playoff format, but it will definitely take me time to adjust. But what I’ll want to do next year and the years after is see how the athletic directors, coaches and players feel about it. I’m sure right now it all looks good, but will they care? Does it really matter to them in the grand scheme of things? And because there is precedence, will MSHSAA feel the need to overhaul, or at the very least, tweak the system again somewhere down the road?