Nov 13, 2013
Over the last several years, we have gone on ad nauseam about the playoff system we use for high school football in the state of North Carolina. The pod system was finally dissolved after last season, except in the 1-A and 1-AA playoffs.
While I still believe that using the pod system in the 1-A classification is the right move – it limits excessive travel which can be extreme in 1-A football – it doesn’t mean the system is fixed. In fact, it’s still broken.
Take a look at the 1-A Mideast pod, Lejeune High School (10-1) is the number one seed in the pod and they’re hosting Northwest Halifax – a club that went 1-10 on the season and was outscored 572-132 during the course of the season.
I’m not picking on the Vikings, I’m just saying that it makes no sense for a 1-10 football team to be awarded a berth to the state playoffs.
I’d argue that for these young men at Northwest Halifax to get on a bus and go almost three hours to play a football game where they’ll probably get beat soundly isn’t going to benefit them.
At some point we all have to deal with failure and rejection in life, and if high school athletics are really about learning lifetime values, how about we start teaching values that can be applied later in life – like only rewarding teams a playoff spot who have successful regular seasons.
Maybe I’m just old school and alone in my beliefs, and that’s fine, I just wish we’d see the day where only the top two or three teams from each league make the playoffs. Sadly, we will never see those days again. Football has become too popular and it is the largest source of revenue for high school athletic departments. Partially because of this, we’ve seen growth in the number playoff teams and more conference rematches in the first two rounds.
In the 1-A level, 75 teams play football, and 64 of them make the playoffs. Essentially, if you win one game, you've got a good shot at making the playoffs. There's something wrong about that.
You may not be able to tell, but I really do love this time of the year. This is where the football season really gets into high gear. All teams are just five wins away from a state championship. I just wish the playoffs were made up of teams who were being rewarded for good regular season performances.
With all that said, good luck to all our local teams this week.