Tournament seeding is a lot like national health care. Only much less important.
But just as support for national health care reform wanes as people wallow in the details, so does support for seeding MHSAA tournaments.
Many people oppose tournament seeding. But many other people favor the idea. However, the idea some people have in their minds is not the idea other people have in theirs; so the result often is that even proponents of seeding cannot form consensus for any one idea.
There is nothing wrong educationally with conducting MHSAA tournaments without seeding, nor are there any education-based reasons that compel tournament seeding or make it better than random draws of schools grouped by their proximity. This topic is more about personal preferences than core philosophical principles of educational athletics, but still it can stimulate strenuous debate.
“Purists” line up on both sides, some wishing to preserve the best teams for marquis matchups in the finals; others cherishing the charm of high school sports’ traditional blind draw and an occasional deep tournament run by a team with a losing record. Seeding has the potential to increase the “buzz” around our tournaments, but equal potential to increase the controversy as the placement of teams is criticized.
The MHSAA Representative Council determined several years ago that it would neither require nor reject seeding for all MHSAA tournaments, but would respond on a case-by-case basis as detailed proposals gained support among those involved with each sport. Today there is seeding for boys lacrosse, but not girls; seeding of the eight quarterfinalists in each division of the Team Wrestling Tournament in Battle Creek; seeding by computer averages for Football Districts; and seeding for MHSAA Tennis Finals and Individual Wrestling Districts.
Seeding has some potential to increase gate receipts, but it also has the potential to increase some participating schools’ travel costs, as well as the length of trips on school nights. And right now, any seeding plan that adds to costs for participating schools has little chance of adoption for any sport at any level.