Balancing Football Playoffs

Every time the Michigan High School Athletic Association Football Playoffs have been expanded, two voices have been heard – one complaining that too many teams or divisions have watered down the tournament; the other advocating that every school should qualify for the tournament regardless of their regular-season performance.

The playoffs have expanded from 32 to 64 to 128 to 256 to 272 teams; and in 2017, with the addition of 16 more 8-player teams, to 288 of the 626 MHSAA member schools’ football teams in Michigan.

We have reached the point where 46 percent of the schools which sponsor football qualify for the Football Playoffs, and we are approaching closely the point of qualifying every team with winning records during the regular season.

Those stats sound about right for a collision sport conducted mostly outdoors in a cold climate for teenagers. A longer tournament is unwise; a larger tournament is unneeded.

What is needed and wise is more attention to the regular season, and especially to practices which occur at least five times more frequently than games. That’s where the teaching and learning of football skills and life lessons can be everyday occurrences for every team in Michigan.


Tuesday, April 18, 2017 10:19 AM
Several thoughts -

(1) Are nine regular-season games necessary? How does that (along with starting formal practice in early-mid August) enhance the educational aspect of MHSAA football?

(2) If the August - November season is continued, what is the impact of playing eight "regular" season games with the ninth game becoming game one of the playoffs?

Post Comment

Only registered users may post comments.

About the Author

Jack Roberts

Jack Roberts has been at the helm of the MHSAA as its Executive Director since 1986, implementing programs and overseeing tournament administration and regulations for the Association which boasts 1,500 member schools, 10,000 registered officials and 13,000 head coaches.

During the last 45 years, Roberts has spoken to educator and athletic groups, business leaders and civic groups in almost every state and five Canadian provinces. He is one of the nation's most articulate advocates for educational athletics.

Roberts has served on the board of directors of the National Association of Sports Officials (NASO), is in his second term on the board of the National Federation of State High School Associations, and is the first chairman of the NFHS Network board of directors. He has been board president for the Refugee Development Center for nine years, and is a past-chair of the board of directors of the Michigan Society of Association Executives. He is chair of the board of trustees for the Capital Region Community Foundation for 2018.

He is a 1970 graduate of Dartmouth College, where he played defensive safety for the Ivy League's winningest football team during that span, and he sang in Dartmouth's close harmony vocal group.

His wife, Peggy, has retired from a 30-year career in social services, and is serving as president of the board of the Fenner Nature Conservancy in Lansing.