Want better state football championship games? Changing the FHSAA classes

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FORT LAUDERDALE – Have you ever felt like you’ve come to the right place and doing the right thing, but something is wrong?

This is how I felt on Friday at the Florida High School Athletic Association soccer championships for grades 5A and 7A.

Miami Central and St. Thomas both won their third straight championships in low-drama, timed matches in the third quarter. Both teams started the season as No.1 in the USA Today Florida Network poll and ended the season with the trophy.

Central have won their five playoff games averaging 30 points. Thomas Aquinas was even more impressive, winning each game with an average of 36.2 points.

Both of these teams are run by an exceptional coaching staff and are ridiculously talented, so I’m by no means implying that these titles weren’t won on the pitch. What’s disappointing is that the state championship game should, on paper, be the best game and not a mismatch where the outcome seems predetermined and inevitable.

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St. Thomas head coach Roger Harriott and his team celebrate the Class 7A 42-14 State Championship victory over Tampa Bay Tech at DRV PNK Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. On December 17, 2021.

In some ways you could say this is a year-long incident that could be resolved with a redistribution.

But therein lies the problem that keeps the state from playing at the potentially incredible state championships. The formula for determining the classes does not work.

The FHSAA formula is quick and easy. It is based on school enrollment. It’s easy to understand.

And that does a disservice to the competitive equilibrium.

It’s like watching Disney and a county fair and saying, “Well, they both have rides, so they’re the same. “

Of course, it is not that simple. The idea that a private school, which can offer more money to its coaches, potentially offers a better education and often has better facilities on a par with a public school is laughable.

The same goes for the idea that a school in Miami, Jacksonville or Tampa is on a par with a school in Pensacola, Vero Beach or Niceville.

Still, the FHSAA says Niceville High School, a public school in a city of less than 16,000 people is on a par with Aquinas, a private school in the center of a county of more than 1.96 million people. locals and attracts Miami-Dade athletes. and Palm Beach, with a combined population of over four million.

Chaminade-Madonna, who pound for pound were the top five teams I’ve seen this season, was the Class 3A State Champion due to his strength of between 361 and 739. But the Hollywood Private School hit the road to beat Sanford-Seminole, which has over 4000 students, Buford (Ga.) with over 1600 enrollment and just beat Highland (Az.), which has over 3000 students. .

Clearly, registration is not the main problem in the competitive equilibrium.

So here’s a proposal.

But first, a reality check. What I am going to propose will never happen. Schools in South Florida will never accept it and I understand why. But if competitive balance is a concern, listen to me.

There should be a formula for determining classes, which would include three main factors: population, enrollment and whether a school is public or private.

The population factor should be the most important component – maybe 50 percent. Draw a 20 mile radius around the school and that’s the population count. Some children can certainly come from further afield, but this is not the norm. If one school can shoot 3.5 million and another can shoot 39,000, there’s no way they can be expected to be competitive. Never.

Registration would be a factor – maybe 25-30 percent, but no more.

Public or private is the last factor – up from 20-25 percent. And that’s probably being generous. But this should be taken into account and I am certainly sympathetic to those who shout that public schools and private schools should be in different classes.

It would create very different league games for sure.

But would anyone be upset by a last class 8A square of Jesuit, St. Thomas Aquinas, Apopka and Columbus? Or a final 7A square from Miami Central, Tampa Bay Tech, Cardinal Gibbons and Jones. Or a 4 5A final from Venice, Treasure Coast, Pine Forest and Chaminade-Madonna?

My argument boils down to two main things.

Registration should not be the primary factor determining the competitive balance.

And, more importantly, a state championship game should be the best game it can be, not just a crowning glory.


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