Casting Lines for Future Tournaments

August 12, 2016

By Jack Roberts
MHSAA Executive Director

The MHSAA is best known to the public for the tournaments it conducts to conclude the fall, winter and spring seasons each school year.

These tournaments, the first and largest program of the MHSAA, have survived the Vietnam War, the Korean conflict and two World Wars. They have survived the technology bubble, the housing collapse, the energy crisis and the Great Depression.

MHSAA tournaments existed at the dawn of aviation and at the time of our nation’s lunar landing. Popes, presidents and governors have changed and changed again and again, and MHSAA tournaments roll on year after year.

But the sense of tradition and permanence and inevitability of MHSAA tournaments doesn’t dissuade us from asking questions about our tournaments, even some of the most basic questions. Here are two.

Question #1

I have long been and will always be an advocate for a Ryder Cup format for the MHSAA Golf Finals, and a team tennis approach to the MHSAA Tennis Finals; but 90 years of tradition is hard to overcome. Might this be a more exciting format? Could it be co-ed? Could it reverse the decline in boys tennis participation, and increase girls golf participation? Wouldn’t it be fun to try?

Periodically, the International Olympic Committee requires each of the designated Olympic sports to defend its status, to state its case why the sport should remain a part of the Olympic program. Then, after a series or votes that retain one sport at a time, the IOC drops the sport that makes the weakest case. It does so to make room for one of the previously unlisted sports that makes the best case for inclusion.

This would appear to keep the existing Olympic sports on their toes, and to keep the Olympic movement fresh and reflective of modern trends in sports.

While I would not enjoy the controversy, I can see the potential for some positive results if the MHSAA were to invoke the same policy for determining the 14 tournaments it will provide for girls and the 14 for boys.

This might cause us to consider more deeply what a high school sport should look like, or at least what an MHSAA tournament sport should stand for.

On the one hand, we might be inclined to drop tournaments for those sports that involve mostly non-faculty coaches and non-school venues, or require cooperative programs to generate enough participants to support a team, or resort almost entirely to non-school funding, or cater to individuals more than teams.

Or perhaps this process would cause policymakers to forget traditional thinking and ask: “In this day and age, should we shake off traditional notions of sport and consider more where modern kids are coming from?” That might mean fewer team sports and more individual sports, more “extreme” sports like snowboarding and skateboarding, and more lifetime sports, meaning not just golf and tennis and running sports, but also fishing and even shooting sports.

Currently, MHSAA policy states that the MHSAA will consider sponsorship of a tournament series for any sport which 64 member schools conduct on an interscholastic basis as a result of action by the governing boards of those schools.

Should the only question be how many schools sponsor a sport, or must an activity also have certain qualities and/or avoid certain “defects?” What should an MHSAA tournament sport look like and stand for?

Question #2

Bristling from criticism that his association is a money-grabbing exploiter of children, my counterpart in another state said, “If we were running our programs just to make money, we would do very many things very differently.” I knew exactly what he meant.

Because we care about the health and welfare of students, because we mean what we say that the athletic program needs to maximize the ways it enhances the school experience while minimizing academic conflicts, and because we try to model our claim that no sport is a minor sport when it comes to its potential to teach young people life lessons, we operate our programs in ways that make promoters, marketers and business entrepreneurs laugh, cry or cringe.

If money were the only object, we would seed and select sites to assure the teams that attracted the most spectators had the best chance to advance in our tournaments, regardless of the travel for any team or its fan base. If money were the only object, we would never schedule two tournaments to overlap and compete for public attention, much less tolerate three or four overlapping events. If money were the only object, we would allow signage like NASCAR events and promotions like minor league baseball games.

Those approaches to event sponsorship may not be all wrong; they’re just not all right for us. And we will live with the consequences of our belief system.

During a typical school year, more than 20 percent of the MHSAA’s 2,097 District, Regional and Final tournaments lose money. Not a single site in golf, skiing or tennis makes a single penny. In no sport did every District, Regional and Final site have revenue in excess of direct expenses.

In fact, in only three sports – boys and girls basketball and football – is revenue so much greater than direct expenses overall that it helps to pay for all the other tournaments in which the MHSAA invests.

That’s right: invests. When we present our budget to our board, we talk about the MHSAA’s investment in providing tournament opportunities in all those sports and all those places that cannot sustain the cost of those events on their own. How much is this investment worth to students, schools and society?

These two are core questions that require our focus far in advance of talk about scheduling, site selection, seeding and the myriad matters that too often hijack our time and attention.

Breslin Bound: 2022-23 Boys Report Week 9

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

February 6, 2023

We are down to the final four weeks of this MHSAA boys basketball season – and while the entertaining part is detailed below in our regular Monday report, there’s some major data crunching underway behind the scenes as well.

MI Student Aid

Seeding the top two teams in every District requires thousands of data points – and a season-long process of collecting them all. More than 720 varsity teams are playing this winter, and we’re in the midst of a process of checking their schedules one by one – about a 24-hour task by itself to make sure all scheduled games are showing, league standings are set up correctly, etc.

Additionally, daily we’re sorting through disputed scores, changes to schedules because of weather or teams that have discontinued their seasons, and other adjustments. But we’re always striving for perfection – and when Districts are drawn and those top teams seeded Feb. 26, we hope to have every schedule up to date and every score filled in.

“Breslin Bound” is powered by MI Student Aid and based on results and schedules posted for each school at MHSAA.com.

Week in Review

The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:

1. North Farmington 68, Muskegon 55 These two have lived at or near the top of Division 1 MPR all season, making this win by the Raiders (12-1) at the 2K23 Showcase at Aquinas College arguably their best, especially considering it also was the first loss for the Big Reds (13-1). 

2. Saline 57, Ann Arbor Huron 47 The Hornets (11-4) saw an eight-game winning streak end three days later, but in this one handed Huron (13-1) its lone defeat of the season. 

3. Ann Arbor Huron 67, Benton Harbor 55 The River Rats, meanwhile, rebounded immediately with a 13-point win over Dexter and then a 67-55 victory over Benton Harbor (13-3) at Aquinas. 

4. Warren Lincoln 52, Grand Rapids Northview 37 The Abes (12-3) just keep impressing, this time with a big win over a Northview team matching their 12-3 record, also during the 2K23 Showcase. 

5. Iron Mountain 64, Powers North Central 58 This matched arguably the best in the Upper Peninsula in Divisions 3 and 4, respectively, with the Mountaineers moving to 13-1 and the Jets to 11-2.

A Montabella player gets to the basket during his team's 43-28 win last week over Carson City-Crystal.

Watch List

With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:

DIVISION 1

Detroit U-D Jesuit (14-2) The Cubs have won outright or shared the last two Detroit Catholic League Central championships, and they’re hoping to run that streak to three by winning Friday’s rematch with first-place Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice (14-1). A 68-53 defeat to the Warriors on Jan. 24 and a 67-64 loss to Orchard Lake St. Mary’s on Jan. 6 have left Jesuit a game back, but the Cubs do have a sweep of reigning Division 1 champion Warren De La Salle Collegiate plus early impressive nonleague wins over Clarkston and Ferndale.

Kalamazoo Central (13-2) After just missing the Division 1 Semifinals a year ago – losing to Northview by two in a Quarterfinal – the Maroon Giants are ahead of their 16-win pace from that finish with their only losses to Brother Rice and Battle Creek Lakeview (11-3), the latter by a point. They also defeated Lakeview in the teams’ first meeting, handed Mattawan its only loss and most recently defeated Detroit Renaissance at the 2K23 event. 

DIVISION 2

Ferndale (7-6) Few if any have played a tougher schedule, especially considering Ferndale is Division 2 playing most of the Division 1 powers. The Eagles are No. 5 in Division 2 MPR despite a 1-5 start including losses to Brother Rice, Jesuit, St. Mary’s and Muskegon, and then a two-point loss to North Farmington last week. Meanwhile, Ferndale has defeated Grosse Pointe South (13-3), Flint Beecher (12-3), Clarkston (11-5) and River Rouge (10-5). The North Farmington rematch is Feb. 24, and a Feb. 11 matchup with Port Huron Northern should also boost MPR.

Grand Rapids Christian (10-4) The Eagles may be in fourth in the Ottawa-Kent Conference White, but they are No. 6 in Division 2 MPR. Three of the four losses were to league opponents, but Christian is coming off a 55-53 double-overtime win over Warren Michigan Collegiate (13-2) on Saturday at Aquinas. An early win over Grand Rapids Catholic Central and a Jan. 21 victory over De La Salle also stand out.

DIVISION 3

Flint Beecher (12-3) The Bucs are off to another big start after last season’s finish at the Division 3 Semifinals, losing only to Detroit Cass Tech (17-0), Benton Harbor and Ferndale as Beecher also has loaded up its nonleague schedule. Beecher also has four wins over teams with double-digit victories, with an 80-71 defeat of Flint Hamady (14-2) on Jan. 10 putting the Bucs in first in the Genesee Area Conference Red. The Hamady rematch is Feb. 18, before a major regular-season finish against Goodrich (13-1) and Grand Blanc (14-2).

Napoleon (14-0) The Pirates aren’t sneaking up on anyone after going 19-3 last season, but they are dominating nonetheless. All but one win have been by eight points or more, and Napoleon leads the Cascades Conference after finishing second last year with a pair of losses to Vandercook Lake. The Pirates not only defeated Vandercook in their first meeting, by 40, but next defeated Michigan Center by 17 after the Cardinals ended their season last winter. Napoleon also has a 63-45 win over Big 8 Conference co-leader Concord.

DIVISION 4

Baldwin (13-1) The Panthers are coming off an 18-5 finish and second place in the West Michigan D League, and they lead it this time by two games and with a win over Mesick after losing both meetings to the eventual league champ a year ago. Baldwin also has avenged a 2021-22 loss to Mason County Eastern and could avenge another hosting Traverse City Christian on Tuesday. The Panthers also have given Marion (11-4) half its losses.

Powers North Central (11-2) As noted above, the Jets are at least among the handful of elite small-school Upper Peninsula teams, No. 4 in statewide Division 4 MPR although second in D4 in the U.P. with Painesdale Jeffers in the top spot. Those two wouldn’t see each other until a Regional Final, where North Central’s 19-5 run ended last season. The Jets only defeats this time are to Division 2 Kingsford and Division 3 Iron Mountain, which stand a combined 25-3.

Can’t-Miss Contests

Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up: 

Tuesday – Goodrich (13-1) at Corunna (12-2) – They’re tied atop the Flint Metro League Stars with Goodrich winning the first meeting 69-54 on Jan. 10.

Friday – Detroit U-D Jesuit (14-2) at Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice (14-1) – As noted above, the Detroit Catholic League Central title will be on the line, as Jesuit can force a shared championship.

Saturday – Hamtramck (10-5) vs. Kalamazoo Central (13-2) at Benton Harbor – The Cosmos have faced their share of statewide elite as well, and will be seeking what would be one of their most notable wins in this Wilson Chandler Shootout matchup.

Saturday – Flint Hamady (14-2) at Davison (10-5) – Old rivals meet again as Davison is coached by longtime Beecher leader Mike Williams.

Saturday – Saginaw Arthur Hill (7-9) at Saginaw (14-4) – They’ll still have 2023-24 left before one the best rivalries in state history ends with a school merger, but this year’s rematch comes after Saginaw won 57-55 on Jan. 14.

MHSAA.com's weekly “Breslin Bound” previews and reviews are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Office of Postsecondary Financial Planning located within the Michigan Department of Treasury. MI Student Aid encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing access to student financial resources and information. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 college savings programs (MET/MESP), as well as scholarship and grant programs that help make college Accessible, Affordable and Attainable for you. Connect with MI Student Aid at www.michigan.gov/mistudentaid and find more information on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid.

PHOTOS (Top) A Saginaw player gets to the rim during Friday's 59-54 loss to Mount Pleasant. (Middle) A Montabella player goes to the basket during his team's 43-28 win last week over Carson City-Crystal.(Click for more from High School Sports Scene.)