Meridian Star

January 28, 2013

Wachter: Another postseason, another flawed bracket

By Jamie Wachter / Sports Editor
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     With the soccer playoffs winding down — five area teams will be playing Tuesday for a trip to the state championship games — and in a non-shocking turn of events, there are questions on why certain teams have to travel.

    Much like last spring’s unfathomable hosting procedures that had division champions on the road for two games in a best-of-3 series against lower seeds in the fast-pitch playoffs, the Mississippi High School Activities Association once again seems determined to punish teams for regular season success. Seriously, how can a state organization so consistently screw up playoff hosting procedures?

    As a result, the West Lauderdale girls will hit the road Tuesday to face Greene County. The Philadelphia boys and Clarkdale girls, meanwhile, benefit from this same foolish system, getting to host South Pontotoc — both division champions — for North State title games.

    At least there is no issues regarding this nature in the Class 4A boys South State championship. There, the West Lauderdale boys — the Division 5-4A champions — will host rival Newton County — the 5-4A runners-up.   

    The West girls, who won Division 5-4A, were rewarded with a first-round home game. West, though, then had to travel to Northeast Jones on Saturday due to being in the lower numbered division. And once again, West is hurt by the tiebreaking method MHSAA uses when it came to the South State round.

    However, unlike Saturday’s trip to Northeast Jones, who also was a division winner, West now must travel to face a division runner-up. A division runner-up that has also hosted a game, using it to beat Bay on Saturday.

    Frankly, the whole method of letting lower seeded teams to host in some attempt at fairness is where MHSAA first messes up. Reward the teams that earned home-field advantage by winning in the regular season.

    But even worse than that, not making the first determination after “the team that has hosted the fewer number of games” for the right to host being the division champion is absurd.

    While Philadelphia and Clarkdale and even Greene County should be commended for winning when it counts to advance to the state semifinal round as No. 2 seeds, there is no logical explanation as to how those teams should get to host. All six teams have hosted in the playoffs.

    Give the division champion the reward it has earned.

    And, in some ways, even MHSAA realizes this. While slow-pitch softball also uses the flawed system, just look at how the football playoffs are conducted. While every team still gets a chance to host a game as long as it keeps winning, the next determination goes to the highest-seeded team.

    What a novel concept.