Disappointing decision regarding 2B football playoffs
Last updated 1/5/2022 at 11:14am
Last week, the WIAA unveiled its state tournament allocations for fall sports.
These allocations determine how many teams each district gets to send to the state playoffs in these sports, which
around here, include football, soccer and volleyball.
No changes were seen in soccer and volleyball. District 7, which includes Davenport and Reardan, was given one berth in girls soccer and three in volleyball for the 2B state playoffs. A fair allocation, as the number of 2B girls soccer teams statewide is slim, and three of 11 teams qualifying for state in volleyball is accurate to other leagues statewide.
It was in football, however, that a disappointing decision was made.
The 2B playoffs have been reduced to 12 teams from a previous 16. The reasoning - there are only 45 Class 2B teams eligible compared to 2019, when it was 49. This four-team drop, apparently, was enough to drop four teams from the playoffs.
The decision especially has an impact in District 7 and the NE2B, where a state playoff berth has been removed. The league will now have two berths for the state playoffs instead of three, with the same situation facing our neighbors in District 6 (North-Central Washington).
This means one team from the NE2B that is likely deserving of a playoff spot won't be headed to the post-season.
The 2021 fall football season has, through five weeks, showcased a relatively clear Top 3 pecking order of Lind-Ritzville/Sprague, Davenport and Jenkins (Chewelah).
Because of the new playoff allocations, one of these three teams won't be in the playoffs. This point doesn't even consider other teams that could still make a run and challenge for a Top 3, like Liberty (Spangle) and Northwest Christian (Colbert).
The new system could also effect Tri-City Prep in Pasco, Columbia (Burbank), Dayton-Waitsburg, Warden and others around Eastern Washington.
Let's re-visit the logic of taking away four teams due to a reduction of that many teams eligible at the Class 2B level. As it stands, just over 26% of the state's 2B teams will be making the playoffs.
If the WIAA had kept the 2B playoffs at 16 teams, that would rise to just over 35%. When the Class 2B level had 49 teams and sent 16 to the playoffs, that meant just over 32% of teams qualified.
The number of spots reduced in the playoffs creates a bigger differential than the percentage of teams that used to make the playoffs when there were 16 berths. While 26% is still over a quarter of eligible 2B schools, it doesn't add up when you compare it to the professional sports leagues.
In the NFL, 14 of 32 teams make the playoffs - more than 44%. In the NBA, 16 of 30 make the playoffs, with four more getting spots in the league's new-play in tournament - more than 50%. In Major League Baseball, 10 of 30 teams make the post-season; very close to 35%
If professionals and Division I athletes are rewarded for simply being in the top 40% of their level, why are we punishing high school athletes who lost an entire post-season last year due to the COVID-19 shutdown orders?
The logic doesn't add up.